“The issue of child labour in the sector is still relevant despite the efforts of most conventional mining companies."
Exclusive interview with Sarah Moser, project coordinator at the BUMI non-profit in the DRC focused on helping orphaned and vulnerable children. BUMI is DRC Mining Week's project of choice as social responsibility outreach programme.
Let’s start with some background on BUMI and your activities in the DRC?
BUMI means “LIFE” in Kiluba, one of the 250 languages spoken in DRC. As a non-profit organization we aim at providing better life and future to orphans and vulnerable children.
A vulnerable child is a child at high risk of lacking adequate care and protection. In practice, it includes abandoned or abused children, but also children and youth living in the streets or being economically and sexually exploited.
BUMI welcomes these children and provides them with housing, education, vocational training and health care. Above all, we restore their dignity, give them love and self-confidence.
Currently, our Reception Center and Children Village provide global care to 160 children, more than 500 disadvantaged children attend our schools and our Health Center is open to the surrounding community.
We also run a farming and agriculture project aiming at at training youth while generating income and food for covering our needs.
Any particular projects that you are involved in currently in Lubumbashi that you are very excited about?
Last year we launched a new partnership with the DRC Mining Week with the aim of raising awareness of the various actors of the mining sector on the protection of vulnerable children, investment in youth education and support to communities.
This is a very exciting project as we learn about policies and strategies implemented by the mining companies and their sub-contractors, and we share with them our knowledge and expertise, while identifying together how they can increase their social impact in a sustainable way.
We are happy to see that more and more companies are becoming aware of their responsibility and implement social projects, not only to comply with the regulations (i.e. min. 0,3% of revenue for contribution to development projects) but also because they value social investments.
This action has benefited our organization and mid-2018, just after the DRC Mining Week, Rubamin SARL offered a drinking water well to the children of BUMI.
At the end of the year we also launched a new partnership with Katanga Contracting Service / KCS to improve the care of orphaned and abandoned children at our Children’s Village. Other mining sub-contractors have also joined forces to improve the living conditions of the children we serve.
How would you describe your partnership with the DRC Mining Week and the impact of our contribution?
In addition to the huge impact in terms of visibility and advocacy, the partnership with the DRC Mining Week comes with a long term capacity building support with focus on our Reception and Family reintegration programme, that takes place at our Reception Center. This is the place where children are being brought, sometimes with trauma, malnutrition or other issues.
Our team of educators provides immediate psychological, medical and legal support and initiates research in the hope of understanding the child background, and finding some relatives willing - and capable to take care of the child.
Important progress has been achieved thanks to the DRC Mining Week support and we are now able to accept and reintegrate more children, which means less children at risk. We are really grateful and excited to see how this partnership will further develop in the coming years.
What do you expect from the DRC Mining Week? How important is this forum for an organization like BUMI ?
I believe that not enough is made to create synergies between mining companies and organizations working on social projects, community development or education. Mining companies could benefit from partnerships with grassroots organizations like ours, who have knowledge and experience. But they are often reluctant because of lack of trust, communication and cultural differences.
Therefore many companies decide to implement themselves their CSR projects or to contract ad hoc agencies. By doing so, they can have a direct control of the costs and outcome but this strategy can make the impact less sustainable. In fact, I have seen several projects abandoned because the site was closed or the management was changed.
With the new mining code putting the emphasis on inclusive community development projects, it is important that organizations working with or representing the different communities participate to an event like DRC Mining Week.
On the other hand, the issue of child labour in the sector is still relevant despite the efforts of most conventional mining companies. It is therefore important to show that solutions and alternatives are possible, as soon as public, private and social actors work together.
For more information: http://www.bumi-rdc.org