Idjwi Initiative Board President, Pastor Christian Mubonzi
Our partnership with Congo-based Idjwi Initiative continues as they seek to bring desperately needed maternal and child health services to the communities of South Idjwi Island in eastern Congo. Here we profile the co-founder and president of Idjwi Initiative, Pastor Christian Miruho Mubonzi.
Pastor Mubonzi has deep roots on Idjwi Island. “My ancestors are from Idjwi,” states Mubonzi. “Idjwi is my village. My story there started when I was five years old. There was a war in my country [1963-65]. During those two years my family and I lived on Idjwi Island to be safe.”
The young Mubonzi experienced the harsh realities of life on Idjwi while he was there. “I had to walk 20 kilometers round trip each day to go to school – climbing mountains, in the heat of the sun or in heavy rains. And going to church required a difficult three-hour hike. It was the worst experience of my life. No child deserves that.” As an adult, he carried those memories and made a commitment to bring school and church closer to where people live Nkuvu on South Idjwi. A foundation he established has supported communities in South Idjwi to build one elementary school and five churches to date.
Making health happen on Idjwi
Pastor Mubonzi fully supports the health efforts on Idjwi Island because of the spirit behind the project. “I watched my daughter Edwige Mubonzi, who as a young girl had a dream of bringing health to Idjwi. She has worked so hard to achieve this dream.” [Idjwi Island has one of the worst child and maternal mortality rates in the world, due to virtually no access to health services.] As he observes, “It always takes someone with a vision, along with determination and hard work, to achieve something like this.” Mubonzi counts himself blessed to be part of this journey.
Mubonzi’s faith is at the heart of his commitment to this work. “With faith, there is so much hope. Our work for health on Idjwi Island gives me the possibility to please God.”
Mubonzi reflects on the importance of long-standing relationships of trust with people in the community which he has built over the years. “People of the community have seen so many politicians come in with promises during election campaigns and then never do anything they said. So people of Idjwi are very skeptical of promises.” Because of Mubonzi’s work that has resulted in school and churches built, they know he’s a true partner for community development.
Education and experience to lead Idjwi Initiative
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Mubonzi was director of African Transit Express, a company he founded, dedicated to welcoming tourists from around the world to the DRC. Following that work, he served ten years as the national coordinator for DHL, an international shipping carrier. He has also owned and managed two boats plying Lake Kivu.
Besides his work in business, Mubonzi serves as head pastor of the Church Eglise Pierre Vivante in Bukavu. He is also the founder of ATE Foundation, which provides grants for the building of churches and schools. Mubonzi holds a Master’s degree in Business and Management, a Master’s in Theology, and a certificate in tourism. Pastor Mubonzi is married, with nine adult children and 14 grandchildren.
Relationship with Mwendo Congo
Pastor Mubonzi says, “I have had the opportunity to meet several Mwendo Congo board members and leaders and those encounters were full of energy! Meeting people from very far away who believe in what we believe in is very encouraging. And when they decide to join us in the journey and support our initiatives, that is just amazing.