Building Congo—One Well at a Time

Doug Kulungu

Building Congo—One Well at a Time

Doug Kulungu
2010 BA in Business Administration
Founder and Executive Director, Kulungu for Congo
Congressman of Congo

According to a 2019 WHO/UNICEF report, only 42% of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have access to safe drinking water. Doug aims to change this statistic, one well at a time.

Doug, who was raised in Congo, followed in his late father Pascal Kulungu’s (MA ’97, BA ’98) footsteps when he chose to attend FPU. His education was sponsored by an American family, whom he refers to as his “American parents,” and he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.

With a business degree in hand, his career could have taken many directions. But Doug says he was inspired by his Congolese and American parents’ faith, as well as his time at FPU, to dedicate his life to preaching the Gospel.

“You can’t come out of [FPU] without talking about Jesus Christ,” he says. “You have a better sense of how we make disciples, what is the essence of life, what is our legacy when we leave this earth.”

He spent some time working for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a Christian international relief agency run by Mennonite and related denominations, before establishing the Fresno-based non-profit Kulungu for Congo in 2014. The organization, whose goal is to “improve the lives of the Congolese and alleviate poverty one person, one family, and one region at a time for the sake of the gospel and God’s glory,” is an extension of his father Pascal’s vision to “build a better Congo.”

Water for the body and soul

To date, Kulungu for Congo has been involved in establishing a computer center in the DRC capital of Kinshasa and schools in the village of Kingwangala. But Doug says the non-profit has recently shifted its focus to provide the most basic of needs: water. The goal? To dig enough wells to provide clean drinking water for all the people of Congo.

Intertwined with this goal is the idea that wells provide an opportunity to minister to others. Doug believes everybody should be exposed to the Gospel, that Jesus’ message provides hope for those who are struggling.

“We don’t want to just take care of physical needs, but take care of spiritual needs,” Doug says. “Each well gives more people access to who Jesus Christ is. We want to give clean water and living water to the people of Congo. We want to give them Jesus Christ as the living water.”

By establishing wells, he adds, the ministry is able to be more efficient, using fewer resources to provide for a greater amount of people. Each well, he says, provides about 2,500 people with access to clean drinking water.

There are challenges. Digging a well is a time-consuming process, more so when the work is done by hand. Doug says it takes six-eight people about a week to dig one well. Other challenges include getting materials into the rural areas where work takes place. Doug says his non-profit’s current focus is on raising funds to buy a professional drill, which will speed up the process considerably.

From advocate to lawmaker

This work is intertwined with his other job. As a congressman for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Doug represents a district of about 1.5 million constituents.

Doug received the position from his father, Pascal, who earned a master’s degree in Peace and Leadership Studies from FPU in 1998 and returned to his country to serve his people as a peacemaker, church leader and politician.

Prior to his death in 2019, the elder Kulungu had just been elected to serve a five-year term in the Congolese National Parliament. Per the country’s constitution, congressional positions are inherited by the deceased’s assistants whom they choose, and Pascal chose his son. Doug now splits his time between Fresno and Democratic Republic of Congo, where its congress meets twice a year.

“I’m pretty much working on his agenda,” he says of his father. “I watched his video over and over to understand his message, his vision, to understand how to continue my father’s role to build a better Congo based on the Gospel. How do we use peacemaking as a tool in the government of Congo? These are my father’s visions, so I’m following in his footsteps.

“I have election coming up in 2023,” he adds. “I will run on the philosophy of living water because we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Congo. Congo is a rich country, but most people are poor.”

To that end, Doug continues his advocacy. He networks “like crazy,” meeting with politicians and others across the United States to share about the situation in his country and secure support for his vision. Kulungu for Congo recently held its annual banquet to raise funds for its mission.

“The ultimate goal,” he says, “is salvation. That’s the most important thing.”

More about Kulungu for Congo at Kulungu For Congo here.

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Katie Fries (BA '00)

Freelance Writer