A KEF alumnus repairs critical infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kapadia Education Foundation is proud to have funded an exceptional alum of ours, Faustin Zigabe, to repair critical infrastructure in his community and deliver clean water for Christmas. Faustin received a KEF scholarship for his law degree and participated in our inaugural entrepreneurship support program this summer. Although his full proposal wasn’t selected to be funded upon completion of the entrepreneurship program, one element of the proposal stood out as a slam dunk.
Faustin is from Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—one of the most war-torn regions of a war-torn nation. Instability surrounds the city, politically and geologically. Goma lies between Mt. Nyiragongo, an active volcano that regularly erupts, and Lake Kivu, constantly at risk of a limnic eruption releasing tons of methane and CO2 into the valley surrounding the lake. Victim to a surge in attacks from various armed groups, Goma has been classified as a "state of siege” for most of 2021. To live in Goma is to live with risk in the air, something we all can empathize with since the COVID-19 pandemic knows no borders. This is the environment where Faustin was raised, and the city that he knew he could repair.
Mt. Nyiragongo looms above Goma. Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Express
Faustin’s proposal included the completion of an infrastructure project his organization, Faustin Foundation for Humanitarian Aid, had abandoned earlier this year due to a lack of funds. For little more than one thousand USD Faustin could re-mobilize his group to unclog open sewers & rebuild clean water infrastructure (both pictured below) that had been destroyed since Nyiragongo erupted in May.
Longtime KEF donor and grant review committee member Marty Indvik reached out to Yazan to share how impressed and moved he was by Faustin’s outline and his desire to help those around him, pledging the full amount needed to complete the project. The day after the funds were received, Faustin emailed Marty photos of his team buying the equipment they needed, and renting a garbage truck.
“Having KEF involved and being able to lean on their wisdom, expertise, and relationships gave me the confidence to move forward with a person I had only first met weeks before. I am beyond grateful for the tremendous work KEF does.” Marty says.
Faustin kept in close contact, providing regular updates and photos of the team’s progress.
“The team was very mobilized, no incident occurred, everything went smoothly and took place as planned,” Faustin wrote to Marty in an email documenting the group’s success. “As you can see, the gutters have become clean again, and all pipes have been covered and reinforced.”
His community, which had been living with clogged sewers & limited potable water, received taps for fresh drinking water. #CleanWaterForChristmas was his gift to Goma this year.
“The Faustin Foundation for Humanitarian Aid is proud of this partnership with KEF, and proud to have carried out this work funded by KEF,” says Faustin. “On behalf of the whole community, we say a big thank you for the grant, which was of great use to us in materializing our project, which at first seemed hopeless, but is now realized.”
“This was not an insignificant project for a group of scrappy young adults,” says KEF Executive Director Yazan Fattaleh, who coordinated the gift and provided support throughout the process. “All of this underscores how unique and impactful it is that Faustin and his friends have the vision to improve on issues they see in their communities.”
“I extend my gratitude especially to Yazan Fattaleh and dear Marty for their encouragement, and for making this dream come true by giving our project a chance,” says Faustin, who is already preparing to lead more community improvement initiatives in Goma.
The Faustin Foundation for Humanitarian Aid gives a thumbs-up—the project was a huge success and clean water has been restored to the community.
Well-done, Faustin, we’re so proud of your hard work and commitment to your neighbors.