Butoke, which means light in the Tshiluba language, is a development organization founded in 2005 to address hunger and malnutrition in the Western Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Butoke was the idea of two medical doctors: Belgian born, Dr. Cecile De Sweemer (deceased 2018), and Dr. Jean Lumbala (shown above left), a medical doctor and agronomist from the Kasai Region. Together, they worked to fill a gap where the economy, the government, and even the social fiber of society itself had been devastated by years of civil war (1997-2001) and recent localized fighting (2017-2019).
Children and Communities at Risk
Among children less than 5 years of age in DRC, 46% are stunted, 10% are wasted, 6% are severely wasted, and 25% are underweight. The prevalence of anemia is 74% among children 6-59 months of age (Centre for Disease Control).
People in the area Butoke serves are undermined by civil unrest, terrible infrastructure, poor access to safe drinking water, and a signicant lack of good hygiene and sanitation habits, knowledge regarding appropriate feeding practices for infants, children and women, healthcare, agricultural inputs and post-harvest support. All of these combine to create hardship, chronic malnourishment and a lack of economic opportunity.
Dr. Lumbala and his team work tirelessly with local communities to improve education, community health, agriculture, human rights, and they care for orphans and widows.
Today, because of the support from generous Canadians:
- 1,500 primary and secondary students have access to improved school buildings and education, over 600 community members, representing over 4,000 household members, in over twenty-five associations benefit from Butoke’s support to improve agricultural yields, nutrition and management
- 1,000 persons receive medical care each year
- 65 orphans receive care and education
- Butoke intervenes several times each year to defend the human rights of girls who have been sexually assaulted and older persons accused of being witches