At 20, Cibalonza has already discovered that caregiving is a part of who she is, and what she wants to do with her life. “I don’t like seeing someone suffering reason why I am think that if I become a medical doctor I may help people by taking care of them in general and particularly when they are suffering from sickness,” she says. “I want to study in university and start with the school of nursing. It is important to me because I always have been shocked when I see people in my country die due to the lack of means to access medicine. There are not enough medical doctors.”
“What inspires me is helping poor people and being qualified in medical sciences with focus on pediatrics to allow me to take care of children. The mortality rate in Congo among children under the age of five is very high and I want, I dream to be part of the solution. I want to make changes, to help sick people access free medical care, especially for those who are not able to pay even a little amount of money for their medical care because of extreme poverty.
With further education, Cibalonza plans to contribute to Congo to help construct good hospitals, and to take care of the children of the street and pay school fees for them because of their vulnerability.
Cibalonza is no stranger to the power of community coming together to raise up those in need. Living with her father and stepmother, she was struggling to keep up in the fourth year of secondary school. Her family required she spend her time doing work around the home – digging in the garden, walking to find water, washing the days dishes – leaving little time for her studies. She had a rocky relationship with her stepmother, who was also employed at her school. Eventually her stepmother refused to pay the school fees for her fifth year at secondary school, and Cibalonza missed a year of school. The treatment felt so bad, “I asked myself why I was born,” she reports.
Unable to pay her own school fees, Cibalonza learned about the Education Assistance program run through Action Kivu’s partner, ABFEC. With her drive to study, to learn, and to become a medical professional who will care for others, she was welcomed into the program, and returned to school that following fall. Graduating this past spring of 2017, she has repaired the relationship with her stepmother, and both parents are encouraging her to pursue a college degree, as the best way to a better life.
“My life was changed by being in school because I have improved my knowledge, and it gives me respect and consideration in my family,” Cibalonza says today. Without the support of others, she says, “I could not graduate this year.”
What advice would Cibalonza give other girls? “I would advise other girls to avoid anything stopping them from moving forward and to concentrate on what makes changes around them and in the world. I am calling other girls to remain strong and courageous, courage and hard work are good values.”
One year of university (including room and board and books) for Cibalonza costs $7,000 USD.