Join the Mwana Family!

Have you desired to get involved in making a true difference in the life of a vulnerable child or family? Have you wondered who you could trust? The Archibald Project puts our stamp of approval on supporting Mwana Villages in the Republic of the Congo! 

 
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The Mwana Family isn’t limited to the children and families whom we serve.

It’s also YOU!

It’s our supporters who give financially from the US, France, Canada, Congo…it’s the volunteers who give of themselves for graphic design, construction, medical expertise, accounting and prayer…it’s the advocates who lift us up in prayer and check on their little, big or mama they sponsor. It’s the networkers who share with their coworkers and friends about this little corner of the world that’s making a BIG difference in the lives of some of the most marginalized in the world. 

We want YOU to be come part of the Mwana family!

Join us as a sponsor ($30/month per segment to Nest, Nurture, Heal, Empower, Protect one of a Little, Big or Mama) and come alongside our children and families in a beautiful, powerful way. 

We invite you to consider how you can engage: would your family come together to sponsor someone? Your child’s classroom? A gift for a coworker or friend? Perhaps consider turning that weekly Starbucks into valuable support... We want to hear from you about how you’re coming alongside as a sponsor and joining US as part of the Mwana Family!

Click here to join the Mwana Family! 


Mwana's Family Video:

About Mwana:

A Mwana Adoption:


A Day In the Life of a Mwana Child

Meet Zachée! Zachée and his two siblings have been a part of the Mwana family for a little over 2 years and are growing and developing so well. We thought it would be a helpful exercise to introduce you to a real child, who is experiencing the wonderful benefits of Mwana to help you understand the true beauty of their holistic care! 

 
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Zachée wakes up at about 7am. He rules the roost at Mwana, and like any other six year old boy, he swings the pendulum from kind and happy leader to big brother who knows how to push all the boundaries. Zachée eats breakfast (carrot cinnamon bread with a banana) next to his other brothers and sisters at Mwana, and packs his backpack for school. His younger twin brother and sister wave goodbye to him as he leaves for a typical day.

Zachée and his Mwana “sister” Mavie load into the car (sometimes a taxi; sometimes one of our local supporter’s drivers) and are taken to school where they attend one of the best schools in Pointe-Noire alongside other expat children from France, Italy, Germany and other countries. His teacher tells us he’s very bright, though of course like most six-year-old boys can be a little rambunctious. He even has the recent stitches to prove it.

At the end of the day, he greets his Mwana brothers and sisters for outdoor playtime. They’ve been enjoying the day through the “Imagination Station” playing make-believe, dress-up, arts and crafts, dancing and singing and Zachée and Mavie are now home just in time for outdoor play time. Trampoline, toy cars, swinging and balls make for the best time of day. After baths and dinner, all kids are snuggled up in pjs for the nightly routine.

 

The nightly routine is what truly creates the sense of “family.” Each mama caregiver has two or three little ones laying on her lap, and with warm milk and bottles, the lights turned low and candles lit with essential oils to set the tone of calm, the mamas and children sing several rounds of praise songs, prayers and snuggles. One by one, each child is lain in his bed with a kiss and “Je t’aime” and the day is over. 

Mwana is a Home. It’s a family. It’s a place of healing, respite, laughter, tears, dancing, music, food and fun. Whether it’s “home” for a few months or a few years, our kids know that they are loved; they are safe; they are important because they are part of the Mwana Family.

Dignity of the Marginalized

After being misguided into a corrupt international adoption for 3 years, the Bridgers family developed a heart for vulnerable families and ethical orphan care. Find out how Wellon and Stephen came to Mwana Villages and found their son and daughter through holistic and above reproach actions. 

 
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For the last six years, August has been a big month for us. In August of 2011, we joined a pilot program for the DRC. Two years later to the day, in August 2013, we were matched with beautiful twin boys, who by everything we were told of their social history (mother prostitute; unknown birthfather; no known siblings), were in true need of an adoptive family. One year later, on the exact same day and after an adoption judgment and very final steps before bringing these boys home, we were told something that rocked our world. “The boys have been kidnapped by a man claiming to be their father.” WHAT!?? Then we found out their parents are married. And they have teenage sisters. And their family wants them. And their mother has worked at the orphanage the whole year they were there. And…they’ve been back with their family for three months already.

We were completely shocked. Everything we had been told was untrue. The day we had worked tirelessly towards for now three years was beginning to crumble underneath us. But…was it really about us after all? 

“This is their family” was the phrase my husband and I kept repeating to each other. How could we possibly be a part of dividing this family? As we stepped away from that process, fully supportive of this newly reunited family, this shocking experience gave way to a deluge of questions and launched us into a new phase of research. How often does this kind of thing happen? Who are the players in this kind of dark side of adoption? What kind of coercion leads to a mother’s ‘decision’ to give her children up for adoption? Is this typical throughout third-world countries? 

We became convicted that as much as we wanted to complete our family through adoption, we couldn’t turn a blind eye to all that we had learned. Family reunification and support for vulnerable women, orphan prevention, became paramount and we sought to find an organization that was involved in the orphan crisis in the right way: a way that doesn’t divide families but preserves them, in a way that doesn’t insult women by taking their children, but upholds them with dignity and respect. 

 

We stumbled upon this little grassroots ministry called Mwana Villages, and we liked what we saw. But skepticism ran deep, and as we got to know the founders and this young organization, we tuned our eyes and ears to how decisions were made. Were they the kind of people that would forsake lucrative opportunities (i.e. the international adoption world) for the very unglamorous and difficult path of reunification? Time and time again, as the founders quickly became dear friends, we saw sound, ethical, difficult decisions that upheld the dignity of the marginalized and that honored God and his scriptural commands. After a final confirmation trip to Congo to see it with our own eyes, we knew we wanted to be a part of this organization.

Fast forward to the following August, and lo and behold, we were making arrangements with the folks from The Archibald Project to travel together to bring home our two children from Mwana, Leila and Daniel. I have had the amazing privilege since to become the US Director of Mwana Villages, now a growing nonprofit in the US as well as Canada, Congo (and soon France!). I’m about to embark on my fourth trip to Congo this upcoming September, and could not be more touched to have had what once was a heartbreaking story be the impetus for a lifelong ministry to the amazing, beautiful children and families of Congo.

Everyone has a story to tell. And anyone can be an advocate. A champion. A networker. A believer that hope for the marginalized is possible. And that’s what I invite you to be as part of the Mwana Family.

-Wellon, Adoptive Mom and U.S. Director of Mwana Villages

My Time With an Ethical Child's Home

Having lived and worked in many countries + cultures around the world, we have found that finding ethical and trustworthy organizations can be a hard task. Today, we bring you one expat, turned Mwana Sponsor, to share a firsthand view of supporting an ethical organization! 

 
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"Westerners are so bombarded by people seeking money or other kinds of financial or material assistance, they begin to believe that all needy Africans are out and about aggressively asking for help. This is far from being true. In many African cultures, the most needy people are the most hesitant to ask for help. In contrast, more aggressive, blatant requests are typically indications that the petitioner is manipulative, professional, or at least more practiced. Whether needy people are restrained or bold about asking for help seems to depend a great deal on the person’s culture, religion, individual scruples and values, and, of course, on his self-definition of “needy.” "

― David E. MaranzAfrican Friends and Money Matters, Second Edition: Observations from Africa

Having lived and worked in East Africa for a few years in my mid-20s, I still bear the marks of joy mixed with heartbreak from my time there. Uganda and its beautiful people captivated my heart with its rhythm, magnetizing potential and manifesting vulnerability. But my naivety, youth and western understanding of partnership took major hits in the following years as the ugly side of development work, ministry and exchange of money in a impoverished country was laid bare. Our organization built a large children's home from the ground up, drilled wells, established a widows community organization (now the thriving Akola Project) and met many other "on the ground" needs. Little else aside from the Akola Project remains from our time and efforts during those years. We set out with a strong belief that true and fair partnership with local community leaders was not only possible but necessary to build an organization of western and African cohesion. However, our partners were more the aggressive and loud variety as referenced by David E. Maranz above, and money mixed with cultural differences and theft lead to heaps of heartache.

I build that picture of my personal past to introduce Mwana, an organization that has rebuilt my hope and trust that true partnership between African organizations and the West can and does exist. I was hesitant to join a small team to the Republic of Congo this past spring due to my cynicism and lingering scars of disappointment. Children’s homes specifically give me pause because this is where we saw a majority of the corruption surrounding our work. However, as I drew closer to Mwana and its unique 3-pronged leadership team, I was so encouraged and excited to learn about and witness their work on the ground in Congo. 

 

The 10 days we spent in Congo taught me much about Mwana as an organization and Congo as a country with a unique set of challenges. In Congo, there is plenty of attention offshore due to the profitable oil industry but there is little attention where is should be, on the impoverished and vulnerable. The lack of NGO and non-profit presence in Congo was striking when compared to other countries like Uganda. I think one of the main reasons for this is simply that Congo is not as fertile of ground to non-profits as other areas in Africa. The political climate, high cost of living and operations mixed with language barriers (Republic of Congo is primarily French speaking) creates a climate that is not necessarily easy for non-profits, specifically from the United States. There is an absence in Congo, and Mwana is standing bravely in that gap and serving beautiful families and children of incredible need. 

Mwana is a refuge that seeks to first and foremost nurture the family. This is a unique trait and true aim that sets it apart from other children’s homes I have witnessed. Women in Congo, like most women in Africa, are often faced with the overwhelming task of caring for children without skills or education to provide. Upon entering Mwana's walls, it is very clear that Mwana is more than an orphanage; it is a home, a community and a beacon for families and children in distress. Adoption is seen as the last opportunity for children to leave Mwana and enter a family. This culture of preservation is so important and commendable. Mwana is not looking to grow their numbers and boast how many childen it cares for - they celebrate the reunification of children with their families and encourage the family unit in Congo. Mwana's chief aim is not a construction project, it is to care for each child and woman within its walls with dignity and love of the highest quality care possibly. They seek to provide a loving and healthy temporary home for the children within its walls. This attitude of service and humility is not only admirable but incredibly rare. The partnership between the Congolese and Western staff is established and marked with checks for all to be held accountable. Finding true partnership between two cultures is a very difficult task and Mwana does it incredibly well. I am a proud supporter of Mwana and look forward to supporting their just and honest cause for many years to come. 

-Ashley, Mwana Sponsor

Sponsorship + Advocacy

Becoming a Sponsor with Mwana Villages means becoming a part of the family! You become a cheerleader, an advocate and a source of encouragement!

 

What’s your passion? Orphan care? Education? Empowering women? Social justice? Economic improvement for the poor? Homelessness? Nutrition? Advocacy? Could you possibly imagine an organization that meaningfully engages with all of these issues while providing transformation? 

Mwana Villages is committed to addressing the orphan crisis in a holistic manner, serving the Littles, Bigs and Mamas to provide transformative hope and a future. And serving orphaned children and vulnerable families means that we necessarily engage in all of these issues in order to provide a stable, hopeful future. 

That’s exactly how our sponsorship program was designed: providing folks like you, representing a huge array of gifts, passions and interests, with a way to meaningfully engage with the Littles, Bigs or Mamas who are part of the Mwana Family. Our sponsorship program allows you to choose the area of focus that resonates with you the most: you can sponsor a Little, Big or Mama in one (or more!) of five ways, each $30/month.

Nest: shelter in or support via the Mwana Refuge
Nurture: life-giving nutrition
Heal: medical care and treatment
Empower: educational opportunities
Protect: protection from trafficking

But the sponsorship program is about so much more than connecting folks like you to folks like Henriette, Mavie, David, or Jarel. It’s also about advocacy. The truth is, we all need an advocate--someone who cheers us on in our dark times, who believes for us when we have a hard time believing, who celebrates our successes, who prays for us. This is the beauty of the sponsorship program, that each of our children and families gain an advocate. 

Could you become a part of Mwana’s family by sponsoring their holistic efforts?!?

You can learn more about sponsorship with Mwana here!

Beauty. Resilience. Poverty. Marginalization.

How often have you thought that 'orphan care' meant 'adoption'... or that adoption was the answer to the orphan crisis??? Don't feel shame, we used to believe this, too.  Read below about how one organization in the Republic of the Congo is approaching orphan care in a Holistic and ethical way!

 

Beauty. Resilience. Strength. Vibrancy. These words are some of the best descriptors of the Congolese people. Yet these words also ring true: Poverty. Marginalization. Generations of orphans. 

The vulnerable children, women and families in Congo are among some of the most marginalized in their communities. The title of “orphan,” “disabled” or “widow” is a debilitating sentence that cycles through generation after generation. But Mwana Villages is changing that reality.

Mwana Villages seeks to provide transformative hope and future to children AND THEIR FAMILIES in Congo and beyond. It’s those important three words, “and their families” that makes Mwana such a distinctive organization. In the world of orphan care, the children are most often the focus and extent of the organization’s work. Yet caring for the orphaned child often neglects the very reasons a child is orphaned in the first place. So we must address the vulnerable family unit, the mamas, and seek to preserve and reunify the family whenever possible.

 

This is why Mwana was started: a Congolese man and his Canadian wife had a vision to provide hope to the hopeless; to transform what was broken into a beautiful future. Setting out by working with one family at a time, they soon became aware of the need to provide a refuge for children where they could receive loving, safe care until they could be reunified with their families. In some cases where reunification was not a possibility, they would become part of a new forever family through adoption. 

Today, Mwana Villages serves the Littles (children aged 5 and younger), the Bigs (5 years through teenage years) and the Mamas (vulnerable women/mothers), having ministered to nearly 60 babies and young children in the Mwana Home, and to over 50 mamas and bigs throughout the community. Each story has its own beauty and strain, triumphs and struggles. And that’s what makes us a family. Join us the next two weeks as you learn a little more about what it’s like to be part of the Mwana Family…