The Catholic elementary school of San Kizito is one of three schools founded and run by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in the Republic of the Congo. The sisters arrived in the Congo in 1995 in the region of Sanga, in the locality of Sembe. The school "San Kisito" is the only elementary school in this locality that opened its doors to the children of the forest, the pygmies; who had no formal education opportunities. The Bantous, who feel superior to the pygmies, could not sit on the same benches to learn together with the children of the forest.
One of the works of evangelization of the Institute of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart is precisely the mission of education, so dear and desired by our Founder Laura Leroux, who wanted this service to be given with predilection to the poorest and most abandoned of society. The sisters, considering the importance of education and faithful to their charism and apostolic mission, founded the elementary schools, among them, "Saint Kisito" to welcome and give an opportunity of integral education to the children of the forest. Access to education is offered not only to the pygmies, but also to the Bantous. Both learn and share together the knowledge and dignity of being children of God.
There are many challenges to face in carrying out this mission:
- the arduous awareness to be made to the population in general about the importance of the education of children: for the pygmies education is not important and 60% of Bantous are wary of sending their children to school.
- The only means of survival is agriculture and children must be available at home to go with their parents to the fields to work. All justifications are good for not sending children to school.
- The pygmies live in extreme poverty and to have them in school must provide for their needs and also for everything necessary for the school.
Pygmies are nomads, they do not cultivate, they eat what nature offers them, that’s why they prefer to live in the forest, there they can hunt, collect the fruits and satisfy their needs without depending on anyone, they move from one place to another according to their need.
When they consider it appropriate to return to the village, however, they always settle a little far from the center. This makes the seasonal schooling for them because they move according to the seasons of particular harvests in the forest.
Despite these challenges, we continue our work of awareness and education, trying to avoid discrimination even if, with all the efforts and good will, it will never be possible to satisfy everyone. We had pygmy children who went from primary school to secondary school and great was our joy to know the positive results of the tests since the first five pupils in the ranking, were all pygmies! Despite their poverty, some parents of pygmy children come to us to offer their contributions to the education of their children.
Let us give thanks to God, the author of every good, because he has chosen us to serve in this mission and, by his grace alone, he guides us in our daily activities in the footsteps of providence, for the glory of His holy name and for our sanctification.
Sister Blessing Lukong