Founder and Director of the Orphanage Passy Mahano was 10 years old when one of the big militia groups invaded her village and she took refuge in her uncle’s house. The militia came to the house, killed her uncle, her aunt and 3 of their children. Passy hid under the bed with 2 other children and survived. The following year, the Hutu paramilitary Interhamwe stormed her house and took all their goods. They threw Passy into a storage bin and left her to die.
Despite the horrors, the poverty, the violence, the instability, Passy sought always to pursue an education, and enrolled as a student of Medicine in Goma where she studied for 3 years. But as the situation became worse and worse in her village area, as there were more and more orphans each day as a result of the fighting, Passy decided to abandon her studies and set up an orphanage herself in order to look after and protect these vulnerable children, and to give them some hope for a future. And so she created an organization ‘Gazelle for the Life of All’. She obtained a building in her village of Rugari, and brought 52 children, victims of the armed conflict, inside its walls. The conditions are poor, but the children have food, shelter and company. Armed groups still roam the area and Passy's dream now is to give the children a home where they can live and play in safety.
Dr.Helen Pope, Australian by birth, Italian by adoption, has lived and worked in Italy since 1981, teaching Classics at both University and High School levels. She began her volunteer work in 2001 in the Middle East, and since 2009 has devoted her free time to projects in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Prior to this project she worked with an orphanage in Goma, overseeing the transformation of a simple wooden shack with 12 children into a new building accommodating 30 children with 70 more in nearby ''Welcome' families. In 2015, she met Passy Mahano: “I was struck by the tremendous courage of this young woman, and by her commitment to give a good life to the orphans in her area, despite the huge difficulties which surround them. She is an extraordinary woman and I wanted to support her in every way I could.”
Lee David Sims
U.K Representative of Fondazione Cariello Corbino
Having visited the Eastern DRC twice, most recently in March 2017, I have become very passionate and determined in helping the Foundation secure a brighter future for Passy and the children. I am also very keen to make sure more people in the U.K. are aware and informed of the ongoing atrocities in the Eastern DRC and to provide them with opportunities to make a difference. I currently work for a Pharmaceutical company and have many years experience in the Healthcare field, including running my own business. I am focused on using my experience and my networks to both raise funds for the Foundation, as well as support with the Business Planning and organisational side of the projects.
Director Fondazione Cariello Corbino
Alberto is a passionate Neapolitan who graduated in Political Science from the University of Federico II in Naples and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Padua. His first visit to DRC was in 2009, when he visited a small orphanage on the outskirts of Goma together with Helen Pope. For many years Alberto has devoted his time and efforts to humanitarian projects, both in Naples and outside, and in 2017 he set up a charitable Foundation in honour of his mother. The Foundation is the major supporter of Passy's Kids.
Director of Congohound Unit, Virunga National Park
Marlene first went to the Virunga National Park in 2011 in response to a call from the Park's Director, Emmanuel di Merode. Poachers were decimating the wildlife in the park, and the mountain gorillas were in particular danger. Marlene, an international expert in 'mantrailing', responded, and has since then been training rangers to work with dogs in order to combat the poachers. There she met Passy and began supporting her in her efforts to take care of and educate the orphan children in the area.
Carlos Vazquez was born and raised in Madrid. He is an IT professional, and a private contributor to many NGO´s, such as Doctors without Borders,UNHCR, Greenpeace. Inspired by the amazing story of Virunga National Park, he and his wife, Monica, visited there in 2018, where they had direct experience of the situation in eastern Congo. After talking with Alberto Corbino, whom they met there, they decided they wanted to help and support the project for Passy´s kids. This project is a real example about directing 100% of the money raised directly to the project for the kids. The focus now of Carlos and Monica is continuing the support and fund raising from Spain with their organization Asociacion Tabaibato show donors, friends and family that everything is possible.