Our Founders

Cheryl had always been attracted to Africa and especially to the idea of helping children there. Her plan was to be an obstetrician and work for Doctors Without Borders. She married an African man, Lambert, and soon after, they started their family. When Lambert got a job offer for a company in the Congo in 2004, they hardly hesitated. They sold the house they had just built and moved to Pointe-Noire with their three young boys. They figured life is short and they didn't want to let fear stop them.

Everyone advised them against it and thought Cheryl was raving mad to decide to go someplace she had never even seen before. Lambert and Cheryl used all the money they had made from the sale of the house to pay for the container to ship their car and furniture, and for their plane tickets.

It was a great experience, and the contrast between utter beauty and extreme ugliness amazed and repulsed Cheryl. It was especially hard for her — there was so much suffering. They did what they could to help, including saving a dying baby’s life and taking him and his mother under their wing. Read their story 

It was a total culture shock, though, and the hardest thing Cheryl had ever done. Lambert was working a lot and their marriage was on the rocks; they couldn't find decent schools that they could afford for the boys, so Cheryl ended up having to home-school. At the time, there was a real problem with electricity and running water, and they faced sickness from parasites and malaria, loneliness and isolation. When Cheryl was pregnant with their fourth child, she had had enough and wanted nothing else than to go back “home” to Canada.

They sold everything they had to pay for the tickets to return home. They came back to Montreal and started over in a two-bedroom apartment with used furniture and no car… and a fourth child on the way! Traumatized by the experience, they were in total shock to come back having utterly failed, wondering why they had had to endure such an ordeal.

Strangely, about six months later, both Cheryl and Lambert started noticing their heartstrings pulling… They just couldn't go on and live their lives in the comfort of Canada and turn their backs on what they had seen in the Congo. They started coming to terms with their experience, and out of suffering and loss came a reason for being.

If they had the choice to do it over again, they would, because their tribulation showed them why they are on this earth. Their mission in life is to make the Republic of Congo a better place for abandoned, vulnerable children. 

In 2009, Cheryl raised money to take a research trip, and, not knowing what to expect, she was amazed by how well everything went! She met with government officials in both Congos (DRC and Republic of Congo) and even obtained authorization letters from them. She met orphans and street kids and was heartbroken by their stories and by having to leave them in their awful situations.

She came back to Canada clear-headed, and she and Lambert quickly attracted a great team and became a registered charity that year. Today, Cheryl, Lambert and their 4 kids have all officially moved to the Congo to work on Mwana Villages full-time.

And in May 2013, they had twin girls. Now the eight of them are living there and enjoying the impact they are having in people's lives.