This is Frida Katongo, a 14 year-old girl born in Kamakanga, on a farm located more than 2 hours from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Frida’s childhood was often very difficult: her father didn’t have a job and they often didn’t know where their next meal would come from. As a consequence, Frida suffered from malnutrition regularly.
Frida’s father did not have the means to send her to a normal school, so when she was five, she was enrolled in a small school with no amenities. For example, she had to sit on a brick during her lessons since there were no chairs.
Around her, most children did not go to school. Girls like her were neglected and devoted their lives to helping their mothers with housework. In D.R. Congo, it is commonly accepted that only families with financial means can send their children to school. In poor families, parents decide to send the eldest or a male child to school while the others stay at home to help their parents in the fields.
In 2011 however, all this changed for Frida. She was encouraged by her mother to start as a student at the Malaika School, very close to where she lives. Malaika is established by Noëlla Coursaris Musunka and is besides a school, with a focus on education for girls, also a community centre.
Malaika is one of the projects that Close the Gap recently supported with donated computers. Stay tuned to discover more about Frida and her journey at Malaika!