Fesser and Friends Center for Hope first opened its doors on March 1st, 2020 and has since been a key stakeholder and one of the major leaders in the fight against childhood poverty, abuse, and exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. No child is forgotten, and no dream is too big or too bold for them to have. Thank you for learning more about us and the important work we do.
Meet the Founder
Dr. Nicolas Fesser, MD
As a first year medical student I traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help and assist medical teams in containing one of the worlds largest ever Ebola outbreaks. I had previous experience working on infectious disease containment efforts during my time interning at the United Nations, and felt as though I had some knowledge and expertise to contribute. After spending eight weeks in the eastern province of North Kivu I soon realized, however, that there was something much deadlier than Ebola affecting the region; violence, war, and armed conflict.
After returning to the United States I began receiving updates on new attacks, mass killings and war crimes taking place in the very places I had only recently lived and worked in. Pictures and videos of atrocities as well as calls from friends pleading me to help began flooding my phone. "Please do not forget about us" is a phrase that kept coming back to me. I knew then that I could not ignore their pleas and decided to use my platform and privilege to do something about it.
That was the beginning of what has since flourished into the most beautiful project I could have ever dreamed of being a part of. With the help of local partners in the Congo, we have changed the narrative of the region. In an area where children are often used as pawns of war, we stepped in and changed that reality. If we could save some children from a life of war and violence, we could do our part to change the world.
Check out this video of when we first opened the center!
Situation on the Ground
The children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are unknowingly caught in the eye of a storm and are the main victims of the DRC’s instability and ongoing violence. Children in the DRC face insurmountable problems and life-threatening challenges.
The UN Children’s Agency estimates that 13 million people across the DRC lack access to adequate food and over 1.3 million children under the age of 5 are believed to suffer acute malnutrition.
Many are injured or killed as a result of the ongoing armed conflict, while those who survive are orphaned and often recruited into armed groups as combatants and sex slaves. The number of child soldiers across the world has increased 159% since 2012, with the DRC abducting the second highest number of children in 2018.
Estimates suggest that 8 to 16-year-old-children make up 60% of combatants in the DRC. Those released from armed groups are often shunned by their home communities and not welcomed back.
What We Stand For
The world has to flip the script with regards to how we engage with humanitarian aid. We at Fesser and Friends believe that locals know their needs best and as such our organization exclusively hires local employees, partners with local non-profits, sends our children to local schools, and builds and supports local businesses to maximize our impact.
Unlike many other philanthropic organizations, we do not have strict parameters on who we serve. We are similarly not religiously affiliated, though we allow our employees and children to practice their own faith. We shelter children (<18 years old) of any gender, and hire employees of all ages and backgrounds to manage our operations. We pay salaries that are considerably higher than the average national salary and have no gender pay gap.