Old News

July 2021

Justice Project 2020-2021

We have just released a report explaining what Butoke’s Justice Project 2020-2021 achieved. Please have a look at it and see how Butoke has helped make a real difference to the lives of ten women and girls over the last 12 months for just over $3000.

We explained at the beginning of the year how we hoped to be able to raise further funds so that the Justice Project could run again from 2021 to 2022. We have had discussions with several donors and hope to have something to announce about that soon.

Maternity Unit

We also explained at the beginning of the year that we hoped that work would begin on the Maternity Unit in Tshimbundu this year and, perhaps, even be concluded.

We are pleased to say that the building went up at quite a pace in spring this year as these pictures demonstrate:

In addition, thanks to the Methodist Women in Britain, Butoke has bought a significant part of the basic equipment it needs to get the Maternity Unit going.

However, further work needs to be done on the inside of the building before the Maternity Unit can open properly for business. Paul Evans, one of our trustees, will be running two sponsored half marathons in September and October to try and raise money to pay for this.

February 2021

Annual newsletter

We have just published our annual newsletter. Please do have a look and see what Butoke has been doing over the last twelve months with your assistance. The newsletter also contains information about what Butoke hopes to achieve this year. Further information about that is also on the Updates page.

If you would like to sign-up to future editions of the newsletter, you can do that here.

February 2020

Annual newsletter

Our annual newsletter has just been published. Please have a read so that you can see what has been going on at Butoke over the last twelve months and what we are hoping to help Butoke achieve this year. The Updates page also has details of this year’s projects.

June 2019

Following the success of our last sewing machine project (see below), we are trying to raise further funds. See Updates for details of how you can get involved.

January 2019

The death of Dr de Sweemer last month posed big challenges to Butoke. However Dr Jean Lumbala, its other director,  had been handpicked by Dr de Sweemer as her successor and had run Butoke with her for several years. He was in reality running things as the sole director in 2018 as Cecile’s health deteriorated. In January 2019 he formally took charge.

Butoke is supported by the Friends of Butoke Charity in the UK, a similar charity in the US and also by a network of donors in Canada. In early 2019 we all worked with Dr Jean to help him focus on future plans and to budget for the future. Quite apart from anyting else, Dr de Sweemer’s death represented a significant financial blow to Butoke because she contributed all of her sizeable pensions towards its running costs.

December 2018

In December 2018 Dr Cecile de Sweemer, who founded Butoke in the early 2000s, died aged 82. She had suffered from Parkinsons disease for many years. She led an astonishing life of service to the most marginalised members of every society she lived in. Here is a brief biography written by Dr David Gosling:

Empowering the weak and confronting power

August 2018

More people need our help – we’re running out of food and medicines

More people than ever are passing though Butoke needing medical attention and food. We need to help them as well as our orphans and existing community.

Our food and medicines are rapidly depleting. Help us please  Click to help


March 2018

Improving lives – the sewing machine project

Many girls miss out on an education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Butoke’s school is trying to help some young women who were unable to go to school as children by providing them with a vocational education. To this end, the £2400 you donated when Paul ran the Yorkshire marathon will be spent on sewing machines and related materials. The idea is to provide students with skills which will enable them to make a living by making and repairing clothes.

This new project provides women with a real opportunity to learn new skills, build confidence and make a living.

The first batch of sewing machines have now arrived and are already proving popular.



BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane writes about the anger and anguish of villagers caught up in the latest spiral of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. BBC News27 March 2018

January 2018

A difficult year for the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The DRC has had a difficult year and that has affected Butoke’s ability to help those who
rely upon it. The national political situation is difficult. The BBC News website has
interesting coverage of recent events.

Secondly, and of more immediate significance to Butoke, a huge humanitarian crisis has
developed in the Kasai province, which is where Butoke operates. Again, the BBC News
website is covering the crisis, which has grown out of clashes between a local militia and the security services. The UN food agency says that more than three million people are now at risk of starvation. At least 1.5 million people have fled their homes and an unknown number have already been killed or died.

Butoke has tried to help people who have been emerging from the forests where they had been hiding from militias for months at a time. The new arrivals often have literally nothing, not even clothes, when they arrive malnourished at Butoke’s door. Butoke has been trying to provide clothes, some food, medical treatment and blankets, but the
situation remains desperate.

December 2017 

BBC report Fergal Keane

UNICEF is warning that at least 400,000 children in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and could die within a year without emergency support. It also estimates that nearly one and half million people have been displaced from their homes. The crisis is centred on the country’s central Kasai region where fighting erupted last year. The UN says the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now as severe as those affecting Yemen and Syria.

July 2017 update: news from the frontline

The fighting in Kasai has severely disrupted Butoke’s activities. However they are trying to get things back on track and we recently received this report:

The orphanage: Butoke continues to care for more than 40 orphans. New orphans arrived as a result of the violence in 2017. The orphans had to be evacuated from
Tshikaji (usually the main base for Butoke’s operations) to Kananga (the nearest city) for a number of months as a result of the violence, but they have all survived. The
situation was far from ideal with up to 20 children and adults having to stay together in a modest sized flat.

Agriculture: villagers who fled because of the fighting have begun to return to their villages. Most farmers were unable to plant in the last two planting seasons (beginning August last year and earlier this year). Butoke hopes to help farmers prepare for the next planting season (beginning August this year). It is seeking to forge partnerships with an agricultural institute and a seed multiplication centre to further its efforts in this regards.

Nutrition: two million people have been displaced in Kasai and so the need for food is considerable. Butoke has been doing what it can to feed the malnourished and dispossessed refugees, along with other small-scale NGOs.

Education: Butoke’s secondary school was closed from December 2016 until May this year. However by the end of June student attendance was back at 86% with students working hard to catch up on the part of the academic year they had missed.

The clinic: Butoke’s clinic has operated over the last year as a public kitchen and shelter as well as medical centre. More recently, it has been able to focus again on being a clinic. Equipment and drugs were stolen and damaged during the unrest. These cost around $1500 to replace.

The sewing machine project: Many girls miss out on an education in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. Butoke’s school is trying to help young women who were unable to go to school as children, by providing them with a vocational education.
The project provides sewing machines and material and aims to provide students with skills which will enable them to make a living by making and repairing clothes.


2017 The humanitarian Crisis in The Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in crisis. The crisis has gone more or less completely unreported in the western media but the UN estimates that 1 million people have fled their homes and that 731,000 people, the majority of whom are women and children, need humanitarian assistance. The number of people affected generally appears to be over 4 million.

How the crisis has affected Butoke

The crisis has affected Butoke directly:

  • Kananga, the city to which Butoke evacuated its orphans following fighting close to Tshikaji where it is normally based, has now also seen widespread violence. Civilians have been killed.
  • Of the thirteen final year students whom Butoke was sponsoring, one was killed in the fighting, five fled their homes, and only seven took their final exams.
  • Twenty seven members of the extended family of Butoke’s chief nurse were murdered in a massacre committed by a militia group.
  • Butoke has had to close its school in Tshikaji for the time being due to the insecurity all around it.

How is Butoke responding to the crisis?

Butoke continues to care for its orphans in Kananga. It has got them into a school there but is struggling to pay the fees.

It is providing food to displaced people.

The school, which was closed for several months as a result of the violence and instability, is now open.


2017 Support provided to Butoke by the Friends of Butoke Charity 

In 2017 the Charity’s income was just under £24k. A big ‘thank you’ to everyone whose generosity contributed to that total.

During 2017 we sent just under £26k to Butoke (we had a small surplus at the end of 2016). The majority of that went towards the running costs of the orphanage run by Butoke. However we also sent £2400 towards the cost of new equipment for Butoke’s school.

In 2016 The Friends of Butoke Charity raised over £16,000 . We sent £14,600 to help with the running costs of Butoke’s orphanage. Butoke particularly depends on the Friends of Butoke Charity in the UK and a similar US organisation raising funds for the orphanage because the large aid organisations which have provided funds for other projects run will not fund it. As well as helping with the costs of the orphanage, with your help we raised roughly £2000 to pay for the installation of solar panels to provide electricity for the Clinic run by Butoke. However at the moment the situation in the DRC is too unstable for the installation to take place.