By Associates Rita Wesseling and Debbie Weber
Students at theNational Pedagogical University in the Democratic Republic of the Congo take a look at their new syllabus, donated by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and Associates commit ourselves to be informed about the human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and call on our government to do everything in its power to end the violent conflicts there. ~ SC Congregational Stand, September 2010
Over the past several years, Sisters of Charity (SCs) and Associates have nurtured wonderful relationships with several Cincinnati neighbors who are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many have been guest presenters at the Motherhouse, informing us about what is currently happening in the DRC.
One friend in particular is Claver Pashi, Ph.D. He, like our other Congolese friends, works for various justice issues here in the United States as well in the DRC. The SCs have sponsored Dr. Pashi’s efforts in the DRC for several years. Below is an interview with Dr. Pashi conducted by our SC Associate, Rita Wesseling.
RW: Dr. Pashi, you travel to the DRC every winter to teach at a university, correct? What subject(s) do you teach?
Dr. Pashi: I travel each year to Kinshasa in the DRC to teach at the Universite Pedagogique Nationale (National Pedagogical University). I teach approximately 300 students in three classes: Project Design and Management, Governance, and Administrative Law. They are intensive classes that meet seven days a week for two months.
RW: What difficulties do your students typically face regarding school?
Dr. Pashi: The students face many difficulties in trying to get their degree. Tuition is $400 a year and if the parents have a job, they only earn $70 a month. None of the students own cars, so transportation to and from the university is difficult. They walk or take buses and often are late for early classes due to traffic problems.
RW: Do your students have the money to buy textbooks?
Dr. Pashi: Most do not have money for books. To assist the students, I create a syllabus that contains all the information taught in my course. I do this for all three of my courses. The students can also use the syllabus to review for tests and exams. The “book” fee per class for the syllabus is $15. This is much more affordable than buying textbooks, but is often impossible for some students to purchase.
RW: The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati have supported your efforts to provide a syllabus to your students who cannot afford it. How do your students react to this gift?
Dr. Pashi:There is always a joyous outburst of applause when I announce the gift of free “books.” It is, for many, the first time that these students are experiencing such generosity and they are excited to receive such assistance.
RW: What can we do to help the people of the DRC?
Dr. Pashi:We must keep the DRC in prayer during these uncertain times. Contact your representatives, senators and new president to help with the problems in the DRC.
RW: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Pashi:I would like to thank the Sisters and Associates for their monetary donations and their prayers. I appreciate your support of this mission to assist the students in the DRC.
Dr. Pashi teaches at the National Pedagogy University to help pay back what he received from his university education in the DRC. He works to train future DRC leaders to be good stewards of the people when they are in a position of authority.