The Words of the Haydon Family
The International Relief Friendship Foundation, Inc. initiates and supports projects around the world which are geared toward eliminating poverty, suffering, and malnutrition. Social action however, without moral and ethical education, can only serve to relieve, rather than eliminate, the problems of mankind. For this reason, IRFF often works in a supportive role for the Unification Church missionaries who have been able to grasp the vision of the Divine Principle and actualize it in the form of tangible long-term developmental projects. These projects, which attack root causes, have the potential to provide practical solutions to both man's physical as well as spiritual suffering.
ECOPROF (L'Ecole Cooperative Professionelle) is one such project which IRFF International seeks to support. An agricultural/technical school, founded in 1979 by the Unification Church of Zaire, ECOPROF has already won the approval of the Commissioner of Primary and Secondary Education. In an address to the students, he proclaimed ECOPROF as the "Salvation of Zairian youth, the Salvation of the Zairian society, and the Salvation of Zaire."
ECOPROF was established in response to several essential needs.
Lack of education and the development of various forms of agriculture is considered "the priority of priorities" by Zaire's President. ECOPROF combines a basic God-centered education with a concrete plan to aid the specific development of Zaire.
Currently, ECOPROF is educating its students in both the spirit and technique of working cooperatives, centering its training in the basic area of fish farming and management procedures. With the primary focus of researching solutions to the problems of world hunger, additional programs in agriculture, crop rotation, irrigation, and animal husbandry will be instituted.
Much of ECOPROF's success can be attributed to its director, Ndulu Mudigwidj, a highly competent individual whose hope is to instill in ECOPROF students a sense of commitment to the advancement of their country and other developing nations. As a native of Zaire, Ndulu understands the problems and needs of his students. He organized a "purely Zairian" program which encourages patriotism while nurturing a world view consciousness. "Thanks to the new world vision taught by the Divine Principle, God has inspired us to begin ECOPROF as a means of participating in the socio-economic, intellectual, and spiritual development of the world ECOPROF is a school of life for the integral education of man. It is a cooperation between mind and body, between men of all races."
ECOPROF provides an opportunity for native Zairians to take responsibility for the development of their own country. It is a well-conceived, low cost, educational program with a vast potential to become the catalyst for a network of agricultural production sites throughout Zaire and the African continent. The students are young, hardworking men and women who are highly motivated to complete their education. Without a program such as ECOPROF, many would not be able to afford the cost of continued education at the national university. A liberal arts and vocational-technical program such as ECOPROF not only gives these students the chance to study subjects that are of vital importance to the future of their country, but provides them with a means to apply their studies in job areas that will one day affect the lives of thousands of people.
The current 3 year ECOPROF program already plans for expansion this fall into a 6 year technical high school. In the first year preparatory training, students receive a weekly course on "spiritual values and ethics" in addition to general education, language, mathematics, typing and other basic subjects. The second and third years continue in the two specializations of the technical cycle: commercial management and fish farming. Students are also required to complete practical work internships often in cooperation with other non-profit organizations such as the Peace Corps. These internships give the students an opportunity to apply practical knowledge learned in the classroom to realistic field situations such as constructing ponds, fish cultures, and building small bridges.
The Faculty Institute (IFAC) allows for more intense study in the fields of agriculture, technology, and business during a 3 year period. Currently, this program is designed to create specialists in the study of fish life in various water environments, as well as the nutritive value of fish in human alimentation. The graduates of this cycle are qualified to continue their studies in highly specialized schools or universities.