Fulbright Association & Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in DR Congo

Fulbright Association delivering medical glasses to Congolese community members and patients in-need –  metro Kinshasa, DRC July 2016

Members of the Fulbright Association participated in the second annual Envision Fulbright DRC mission of advancing international understanding through volunteer service to communities.
A group composed of Fulbright alumni, Christelle Mputu, Jimmy Vulembera and Nancy Odia and representatives of the US Embassy in the Congo (DRC) including Jessica Chesbro, Leonce Kazumba and Linda James of the Protestant University of the Congo (UPC) proceeded to distribute medical reading glasses granted by the Fulbright Association to the less privileged Congolese community in Kinshasa on July 18th 2016. This is part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation (DMF), the Fulbright Association (FA) and Restoring Vision.

Special thanks go to Dikembe Mutombo, Susan Johnson and Alicia Smith of the DMF as well as our linchpin, Linda James. Linda spearheaded the organization of the effort on the ground in Kinshasa and brought together all the key actors to make this 2016 effort another great success.
The activity has been achieved in partnership with the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation (DMF), and therefore, the prescription reading and sunglasses have been first delivered at the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital “HBMM” to women who had previously received eye exams and who couldn’t afford to buy medical glasses. They received the glasses from the hands of Dikembe Mutombo, Chairman of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation along with Jessica Chesbro, US Embassy Cultural Attache, and Linda James, of the UPC and the key Fulbright Association representative.

The group traveled to the “Centre Ophtamologique de Masina” where their arrival was highly anticipated. There again, people who benefited from the medical glasses are the ones who previously received eye exams. The Fulbright alumni explained the importance of the Fulbright Program and of the Fulbright Association’s Pathways to Peace Global Health efforts are part of the FA’s focus on strategic partnerships that leverage our ability to serve diverse groups, such as the Congolese community who would benefit from the medical reading glasses in so many ways.
The grant was very welcomed by the community who sang to express their happiness. Some members had a word to thank the Fulbright Association mentioning how these medical glasses would effectively change their everyday life, especially for women who could not do their daily household tasks well because of their eyes impairment. Likewise, for young students, the ability to learn to read may hang in the balance. For such young people, the gift of these reading glasses mean the difference between getting an education or not having the opportunity.

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About the author

Brad K. Hounkpati Agricultural Engineer, he served as an Agricultural Engineer at Nouvelle Société Cotonnière du Togo (West Africa). Prior to his Fulbright experience, he was previously Technical Coordinator for Peace Corps Togo in Natural Resource Management Program. He has also served in many roles with organizations working to support agriculture in West Africa, including FAO, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Cashew Espoir Ltd., and Plant Resource Of Tropical Africa (PROTA).

In addition to Fulbright Scholarship, he had been awarded other prestigious awards such as: the WARA travel grant, The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP) Fellowships Award, the Global Programs Graduate International Travel Award and the Graduate Travel Grant from the University of Georgia and nonetheless the U.E Brady Award. His pairs know him as networker or a “to-go person”.

Fulbright Fellow 2011-2013 at University of Georgia (UGA). He is currently serving as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Entomology, UGA. Since 2011, he has been serving as the national contact for all Fulbright and Humphrey grantees from Togo. Inspired by his Fulbright experience, he later created BSBIZTOGO, Inc. & Grain de Sel Togo, Inc., two Georgian 501c3 organization to support underprivileged students in public universities in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and other Fulbright scholars in the US. He has served as Membership Database Administrator, and Advocacy Director until 2017 before being elected as Vice President and Communication Officer of Fulbright Association Georgia Chapter in 2018

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