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Published August 3rd, 2022
Moraga Rotary announces construction of library and learning center in Goma, Congo
LCL leadership team, from left: Alex Cobo, Contractor & Consultant from Florida; co-founders Paul Freedman and Goma Rotarian Fidel Bafilemba; local contractor and Goma Rotarian Placide Mumbere, BEL board member and computer scientist Michael Bafilemba; all wearing groundbreaking ceremonial shirts. Photo provided

Construction for a new library and learning center for children in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) commenced recently, with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by people from California, Florida, and Eastern Congo. After 7 years of planning, The Lumumba Children's Library and Learning Center (LCL) is becoming a reality for co-founders Paul Freedman and Fidel Bafilemba, past president of Rotary Club of Goma-Tumaini.
The LCL aims to be a grassroots gateway to the basic conditions for lifelong learning habits for Goma's youth. By increasing access to reading materials, including opportunities for reading groups, reading instruction, English learning programs, and a space to share ideas and experience, boys and girls can begin to cultivate independent decision-making and critical thinking whether they are in school or not. The LCL will feature the latest in technology and literacy tools that will benefit the young people of Goma.
A bond between Rotary Clubs in Goma-Tumaini and Moraga bring to bear international partners for this life-changing project. The beginning of this bond began when co-presidents Evie Michon and Debbie Koo identified the LCL as Moraga Rotary's newest international project in 2019. The other partner is the Go Campaign, which is a nonprofit organization which improves the lives of vulnerable children around the world by partnering with Local Heroes to deliver local solutions.
The groundbreaking was delayed for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a new site farther from potential lava flows from active volcanoes in the area. Freedman is an award-winning filmmaker and documentarian, and is the brother-in-law of Moraga Rotarian Debbie Koo. Freedman's documentary, "Merci Congo," highlighted the efforts of a handful of activists in the Congo and in the U.S. This is when Freedman met Bafilemba and marked the beginning of their journey as co-founders of the LCL.
You may follow the progress of this amazing project on Moraga Rotary's Facebook at www.facebook.com/rotaryclubofmoraga/ or Instagram at www.instagram.com/moragarotary/?hl=en.
Moraga Rotary meets at noon on most Tuesdays at LaFinestra Ristorante in Moraga. For information, go to www.moragarotary.com.

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