Nov 29th, 2018, 10:00 PM

Getting to know Josue Beya Masanga

By Moumi Camara
A look into one of AUP's own and his NGO based in Congo.

Josue Beya is sitting on a leather grey sofa in his living room, it’s a cool and rainy day in Paris. A floral scent wafts up from an aroma diffuser and fills the spacious room in his apartment. The wallpaper is light gray, with French-style paneling. Black and white photos of Paris landmarks are hung on the wall closest to the sofa.

“Sometimes to make people happy and smile you don't need to do a lot.” says Beya, while he discusses his inspiration for creating his own non-profit organization.

In the center of the room, a dark wooden coffee table is covered with flower arrangements, two boxes of Belgium chocolates and photo albums filled with photographs of some of his foundation's events.

Josue standing outside a building in Paris. Image Credit: Facebook/Josue Beya 

Josue Beya Masanga, an International Comparative Politics student at AUP is the founder of the Josue Beya Masanga Foundation (JBM) a non-profit organization dedicated to children, health, education, culture and agriculture in Congo.

Born and raised in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Beya grew up with his parents and six sisters before moving to Brussels at 14 to finish high school.

“I grew up in a house where my mom and dad cared about people,” Beya said. “They’re always there for others.”

His mother, a stay-at-home mom, had dedicated her life to her kids. His father, who has been Head of Immigration in Kinshasa for the past 16 years, has worked in security since Beya was born.

Domestic agriculture has remained the main source of food and income in Congo, according to Britannica. While the country is still recovering from a series of conflicts, it remains among the poorest countries, ranking at number 176 on the Human Development Index in 2018. When asked about the living conditions in Congo, Beya replied: “For me there’s no middle class in Congo." He also added that while he had a great life there, and still does, it’s not always easy for everyone. “Either you have money or you don’t have money,” he said.

Life for those who don’t have money in Congo is anything but easy. “They’ll wake up every morning and trust me you won't see food at that place, they eat day by day not knowing what they’ll eat the next day. That's the kind of life you have in Congo,” Beya said.

Growing up, Beya would constantly see his parents donate and give to others. He recalls a time when, as a young boy, he would get upset with his parents because they wouldn’t give him money although he’d seen them give money to those in need.

“I thought I didn't have enough, but in reality I had enough, and those people needed what I didn't have,” Beya said.

Santa and JBM Foundation staff donate Christmas presents to children at the pediatric hospital. Image Credit:JBM Foundation

Beya’s upbringing has taught him to share happiness with people who did not have the same privileges that he did. This fueled him to help others as much as he could from a young age.

Before creating his foundation, Beya regularly donated anonymously to hospitals and various charities. His decision to be anonymous was because the act of donating was not to create a spotlight or attention but to genuinely helps others.

“A lot of people donate, and sometimes when people donate its just to show off so people can know they’re doing it, most of the time in Africa that's what happens.”

It wasn’t until 2015, when he started his first year at University of Tampa in Florida, that Beya had the idea to build his own non-profit organization. While he was living in his dorm room, he thought to himself “You're doing all this, you should now try to put a foundation on what you're doing so you can do it correctly,” as Beya explained.

“My way of thinking was bigger than before, to do it [right] you need a foundation,” he said. “I made a few calls in Congo and asked how I could start,” Beya said.  

The JBM foundation gave him a larger platform to reach more people in need. Through his foundation, he began to take on more substantial actions then he had before such as distribution of school supplies, financing small social projects and the rehabilitation of infrastructure.

The foundation's funds are based solely on donations from outside sources. Anonymous donations are made through the foundation's website and charity events. Donations come from various companies that are based in Congo who offer money, supplies or medicine.

Josue Beya and financial director, Olga Kadima, donate medical supplies to Harmony Medical center in Bandalungwa, Congo. Image credit: JBM Foundation.

“I’ve been working with my own money for years and years, and since maybe one year or two I have collaborators and people donating,” Beya said.

“When I started with my foundation I started bringing supplies to hospitals not only in Kinshasa but other cities in Congo, provinces in Congo,” Beya said. “I would take supplies from Europe or all over the world, or people who donate.”

Beya wasn’t alone in building his foundation, however. Although not everyone in his family partakes in humanitarian work, they all help others in their own way. Both his parents and his sisters donate to charities and foundations regularly, including Beya’s.

“I have two of my sisters that are part of the foundation,” he says. His two older sisters, Grace and Fanny Beya, are both very involved in this foundation and  have been by his side since the start.

Fanny Beya was the first advisor at JBM foundation, and still handles development and strategy issues that may occur within the organization: “I’ve been in this position since the beginning, meaning 2015. I advise on different projects that we have and contact different sponsors and partners that would be open to help,” she said.

Teamwork seems to be essential in humanitarian work, and is extremely important to Beya. Everyone who is involved with the foundation brings their own ideas to the table, and projects and missions are worked through by the staff, with input from anyone who has feedback to offer.

“The most important thing is to work as a family when you have a foundation. No one is the boss, I may be the president of the foundation but I treat people like a brother or sister,” Beya said.

A 15 year-old girl holds her newborn child whom she named after Josue Beya. Image Credit: JBM Foundation.

Although Beya's work is focused on health and education, his foundation is careful when intervening in emergencies that involve victims of the circumstances of life. In the summer of 2018, in the city of Goma, located on the eastern part of Congo, the JBM foundation assisted in helping and supporting local women who were raped during the time of war and conflicts. Through his foundation Beya was able to bring donated resources, goods and food to these women.

Among these women is a 15-year-old girl, who's name was kept anonymous, was raped and became pregnant. After giving birth to a healthy boy, she named him Josue Beya Masanga in honor of Beya.

“Adding value to the lives of others is our job.” is a quote from JBM foundation that Beya and those who are part of the foundation stand for.

Of the foundation's various projects and donations, it is his most recent project Beya is most proud of: 

“Hopefully in January 2019 it will be completely done: the construction of an orphanage in Congo,” Beya said. This orphanage will have capacity to hold 24 children, from infant to 18 year-olds.

“But I’m not the one who will take care of the orphanage, I’m building the orphanage but I'm giving it to some nuns,” Beya said. The orphanage is a project that he has been heavily focused on for the past year.

“My objective is not only to give but to build,” Beya explained. “Find a way to put in place things that are going to stay for years and years.”

Although donations can be appreciated, due to corruption in certain parts of Africa, exploitation of donated funds does exist. This can sometimes discourage people from donating to charitable foundations. In order to combat this problem, Beya puts everything in his hands and oversees everything.

Hes building the orphanage in order to care for it, knowing that he’d be able to follow up with each donation made. Beya explained that all donation funds are never touched and go directly into various projects.

Children at orphanage in the Kinkole district of Congo. Image Credit: JBM Foundation.

“I had a charity night last year and that helped me gain some money and helping me finish the orphanage.”

He has also had a great number of people helping him during the construction of the building, making it possible for the children to be able to start moving in within the next month.

Beya shifted around the sofa before saying “I knew I would go through some difficulty; I had faith, I knew I could persevere in what I’m doing.” Beya continued by saying, “What I’m doing today is not what I was doing a year or two before."

When asked what his future goals are and what is next, he answered “ I’m trying to focus on building things right now. Today I’m doing an orphanage, tomorrow I'll try and build a school,” Beya said.

Among the ideas important to him is education, something Beya is particularly passionate about. He is focused on ways to make the education system better for children who are in school in Congo, such as rehabilitation of schools that are broken down. Although this project has yet to commence, it is also in his plans to build a library.

According to UNESCO institute of statistics, Congo has a literacy rate of 85 percent between the age groups of 15 to 24, since 2016. Although this is a 15 percent increase from 2000, primary to secondary school transition is low, with only 72 percent continuing their education. 

“I'm trying to create an atmosphere where in each community there are libraries , with computers and everything, like the 'real libraries' we have here in Europe, or that you can have in the U.S, because we don't have it in Congo,” Beya said.

Part of JBM Foundation's mission statement in the field of education is to "promote the distribution and sharing of books, multimedia,and content for target populations". The foundation has a goal to buy and share 5,000 books. They aims build a partnerships with the municipalities in Kinshasa helps develop communal library access with reading spaces to those who are in precarious situations. 

Children at orphanage in the Kinkole district of Congo. Image Credit: JBM Foundation.

One of the many things Beya wants to accomplish is to build something that helps the people of Kinshasa learn how to make their own money, such as creating a trade school that guides citizens in learning how to be an entrepreneur and create their own business. A place that will “teach you how to make that money instead of waiting for people to give you that money,” as Beya explained.

"[Beya] is always seeking to add values in people’s lives without discrimination.” said his assistant, Billy Modest Kabwika Tshakama, who has worked at the foundation since the begining.Tshakama observes that Beya’s outstanding commitment is what has helped him and the foundation become successful.

“In the future one of the things I would like is to not only concentrate everything in Congo, but to be able to help people in need around the world,” Beya told me before finishing off with “If we can help today and make this world better and greater, why not? Because poverty and struggle is not only in Africa.”