ACDF: l´Association Congolaise "Debout et Fier," meaning The Congolese Association "Standing and Proud"
Pictured Above: ACDF Lubumbashi staff pose with a young beneficiary
Rhonel Dimbu: Director
Heritier Kapenga: Assistant Director
Aimé Kahungu: Legal Consultant
Kasereka Kisokero, Kitengo Ndasimwa, Jimmy Ndala, Leonerd Mayula: Branch Directors
Itoko Kiangebeni, Christophe Iloko, Djef Luzikamo, Audry Mamengi, Charles Zongwe, Boniface Muteba: Technicians
Most ACDF staff are themselves disabled persons drawn from the ranks of former beneficiaries. They are thus highly motivated to see other disabled persons benefit from the use of mobility-enhancing orthopedic equipment.
Additionally, having a staff made up of former beneficiaries helps build self-confidence for new beneficiaries. Seeing other disabled persons manage a large operation and do most of the work involved makes an enormous impression on both disabled children and their families visiting ACDF´s facilities for the first time.
The most important benefit of all, however, is probably the encouragement and optimism new beneficiaries inherit from the disabled youth that care for them and run the rehabilitation center. Witnessing older youth who are disabled in much the same way as they are--and who wear leg braces and use crutches just as they do-- take care of them on a day-to-day basis, is tremendously empowering.
Since older disabled persons not only craft the equipment for new beneficiaries and teach them to walk, but also treat minor illnesses, help them with their homework, and even physically carry them around when they are as yet unable to walk themselves, younger beneficiaries are literally surrounded all day long by positive mentors reinforcing the message that physically disabled persons have many important capacities and can find useful roles in the society.
Through their "can do" outlook, the ACDF staff successfully counter any tendencies towards feelings of uselessness and self pity among new beneficiaries and instead infuse these youth with confidence and a "go for it" general view towards life.
With StandProud support, ACDF currently maintains brace-crafting facilities in six cities in DR Congo: Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Kalemie, Goma, Bunia and Butembo. The outermost of these sites are located approximately 1000 miles from each other and correspond to the west, southeast and northeast corners of the country.