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Cultural event raises money for street children in Africa
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 18 novembre 2010
Photo Anja Karadeglija
Cheryl Walker and Lambert Laki-Laka founded Mwana Villages last year.

A fundraiser held in NDG on Nov. 5 showcased African culture while raising more than $4,500 for homeless children living in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

African dishes, like palm nut stew with ham, were served. Traditional crafts were on display and the concert included performances of African and Western music.

The event was held to raise money for Mwana Villages, a charity founded last year by a Montreal couple. Cheryl Walker and Lambert Laki-Laka moved to the country in 2004.

They ended up moving back in 2005, but after they returned, they couldn’t stop thinking about the need they had seen in the country, including the lives of the street children.

“I just couldn’t go on living my selfish life…after seeing that, it opens your eyes,” explained Walker. “The majority of the world lives like this.”

“Seeing these kids outside, trying to fend for themselves, breaks my heart,” said Laki-Laka.

“They have nothing. They can’t go to school, they can’t eat, they have no parents. They’re on their own,” explained Laki-Laka.

People treat them badly because they are afraid that the children will steal, said Walker.

The couple decided to focus their efforts on helping the kids, and to start a charity.

Walker travelled to the country on a research trip last year.

“One centre that I was told about really touched me. These people had been taking care of many orphans and street children for years, but with no funding, with their own money, and they’re poor,” she said.

There are about 12 children living with the couple taking care of them, while a total of 30 kids sleep there at night. The structure is half-open to the elements, there are no mosquito nets or blankets, and the children sleep outside on wooden benches. They receive one meal a day, mostly rice.

Mwana Villages hopes to rehabilitate the centre, hire a teacher, and provide the children with three meals a day.

Eventually they hope to build a village for street children, where they will be taken care of in small family units and can receive an education.

Walker and Laki-Laka, who have four kids themselves, are planning to put their house up for sale in January and move to the Democratic Republic of Congo to work on the project fulltime.

[Anja Karadeglija]

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