People To People Liaison empowers families in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by providing funds for primary and secondary tuition, young adult vocational training, and micro-credit loans to women to grow small businesses.
Bahekelwa “Baim” Imatha and his wife, Matumaini “Mimi” Furaha, natives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, founded People to People Liaison in Greensboro, N.C. in 1999 to deliver humanitarian support directly to war- torn eastern Congo. They fled from the Congo to the U.S. in 1990 after Bahekelwa courageously testified to the Congolese Parliament about an attack on his school, the University of Lubumbashi, and the subsequent massacre of students.
Sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in Decorah, Iowa, they initially lived in Decorah and studied at Luther College, then settled in Greensboro for graduate study.
With the encouragement of the Sunday school class at West Market Street United Methodist Church, PTPL was founded as a non-profit to offer new life to the people of the Uvira area of South Kivu provence, in the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
People to People Liaison (PTPL) was officially formed in December of 1999, with the filing of Articles of Incorporation as a nonprofit corporation with the Secretary of State of North Carolina. Bahekelwa Imatha (“Baim”) and Matumaini Furaha (“Mimi”), both natives of the Democratic Republic of Congo, signed the articles of incorporation, along with two of their friends.
Before PTPL existed, Matumaini and Bahekelwa had been helping friends and family – and particularly children – who were living as refugees as the result of a war that had been simmering in Congo since 1994 and is often described as “the war the world has forgotten”. Matumaini and Bahekelwa were especially devoted to this work because they knew that their families and friends were among the refugees.
One day, though, as Bahekelwa says in describing the background of PTPL, “then God put this idea into our heart.” The idea was People to People Liaison. Further, Bahekelwa says, “Our mission in creating People to People Liaison [was] to promote the survival, protection, and morally and spiritually healthy development of children…living with the trauma of war.” Thus PTPL was born.