Jean Claude Mapatano (centre) with his brothers John and Amani.
Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Jean Claude Mapatano (centre) with his brothers John and Amani. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Local TAFE making a difference in the Congo

FUELLED by horrific memories of torture and suffering, Lismore resident Jean Claude Mapatano wants to help change the country he came from for the better.

A Congolese refugee, Mr Mapatano is aware of just how disparate the gap between first and third world countries can be and is leading the charge to collect resources to send back to the Congo to help with health and education.

"Many of my colleagues are without the technology to stay up to date with medical education, they don't have basic computer skills or access to the internet so I hope that these computers will improve health outcomes for my community back in the Congo," said Mr Mapatano.

"We were so grateful to be accepted into this beautiful country, leaving behind a warzone and devastation," said Mr Mapatano.

Mr Mapatano hasn't been idle, he has led the charge to coordinate volunteers for Sanctuary while also strengthening lines of communication to share his education with colleagues in the Congo by whatever means he can.

"It's very difficult for medical teams to access to research without computers so I share training resources with the refugee camp medical team through my phone on social media," said Mr Mapatano.

"Also, my colleagues are using old systems in the Congo which can create problems when handwritten notes go missing," he said.

Juggling work as a nurse at Lismore Base Hospital, and a volunteer coordinator for Sanctuary, a not-for-profit that assists off-shore refugees come to Australia, Mr Mapatano has come a long way from his arrival in Australia seven years ago as a refugee

"We are the lucky ones, those who have been accepted into Australia, but the numbers of people who have made it here don't even represent a drop in the ocean, there are so many people back home who have nothing, who need our help."

North Coast TAFE Institute Certificate II in Information Technology students assisting in upcycling classroom computer equipment for the MESH program, an organisation set up to improve the health outcomes of women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are humbled to be contributing to the humanitarian efforts according to Information Technology Head Teacher, Luke Haber.

"Our students have been studying about sustainability and are delighted that the equipment they refurbish is not going to land fill as e-waste and can be reused for a project like MESH," he said.

If you have technology that you're no longer using, phones, computers or printers, please contact Luke

Haber at North Coast TAFE luke.haber2@tafensw.edu.au 02 6620 4838.



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