Groupe Scolaire La Tendresse is a primary school started by a family of Christian Scientists who felt compelled to help children. Because of war and civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, many children had their education interrupted or were not able to begin school at all. In fact, the government instituted a rule that if a child hadn’t started school by age 7, they were not permitted to start. These children, known as “drop-out children”, are welcome at La Tendresse. In 2015, the school was able to build its own school building with 5 classrooms and an office, and it now serves well over 200 students! Half the students attend in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.
Since most of the children who attend the school are unable to pay school fees, the school leadership knows it is necessary to find ways to keep the school operating. Teachers and administrators at the school want to be productive and not depend on others for sustaining it. First came the sewing workshop, which gives young women a skill and a way to support their families. In 2014, E3 invested in this income-producing project, and the school was able to pay its rent with the profits. In 2015, E3 made a larger investment in the sewing workshop, which is now showing even greater returns.
After the sewing workshop came the food-growing program, which began with growing tomatoes. This agricultural enterprise had to be put on hold while the new school building was erected. Now, with help from E3 and the profits from the sewing workshop, the school is growing pineapples, an excellent cash crop in the area.