CASA GOMA is a local Congolese NGO that aims to help the most needy and vulnerable people.
The Association was born on November 13, 2019 from an idea established after a careful observation of the difficulties, solutions and local habits.
CASA GOMA ASBL has devised its own intervention system by combining the experience provided by groups of volunteers, canteens for the homeless and human development facilities in Europe and adding various precautions due to the different cultures and systems present in Congo.
The beneficiaries of the CASA GOMA association are:
Marco Rigoldi was born on July 17, 1995 in Novoledo, a small village in the province of Vicenza.
From an early age he dedicated himself to the service of people and especially of young people.
At the age of 11 Marco joins the youth choir of the parish of Novoledo as an organist and after 2 years, he also begins to follow the children’s choir that he will carry on until the age of 23.
From the age of 16 Marco dedicated himself to young groups in the parish of Novoledo and, for several years, to the Villaverla campsite as an entertainer.
In 2014, after 5 years of study, Marco graduated from the Pellegrino Artusi Institute in Recoaro Terme. Immediately after finishing school, Marco finds one of the jobs he most dreamed of: the baker.
After 4 years, although he liked his job very much, he had dozens of friends and passions; although he was tied to his roots, to his traditions, Marco feels the lack of something.
On August 22, 2018, at the age of 23, Marco Rigoldi decides to leave everything, take a plane and leave for Goma, one of the largest and poorest cities in the North Kivu Province – Democratic Republic of Congo.
At the beginning of his experience in Congo, Marco works in a structure affiliated with Caritas which has as its purpose the transformation of food raw materials.
Here, as a lay missionary, he has the task of learning to young people how to transform raw materials into finished products (especially by teaching the production of bread).
During this mission, Marco notices a great problem in the city of Goma that touches him particularly deeply.
From day one, looking out of the window, he notes the presence of hundreds of children in precarious living conditions.
Marco inquires and learns that these children are street children and are called “Maibobo”.
These children are one of the most vulnerable groups in the city of Goma. Local and international associations present on site, suitable for helping these children, are almost completely non-existent and Marco wants to do something for them.
So he decides and understands that that would be his way to him, that is why he was really called to Goma.
Already a month after his arrival, Marco Rigoldi begins to produce about 200 pieces of bread every day and every day takes to the streets to be able to give them to these children, get to know them better, understand their history and how he could have helped them.
He continued like this for more than a year, even starting to medicate children by buying medicines, bandages, gauze and everything necessary from his own pocket and making himself known by almost all the street children in the city.
His story is known in Italy by the people of his village and neighboring municipalities. When Marco returns to Italy, he makes evenings at the theater, dinners, charity markets, meetings with young people. People start supporting him and Marco talks to people about the project he has in his mind.
A year and a half after his arrival in Goma, the mission in the structure affiliated with Caritas has ended and so he decides to move to an orphanage of Franciscan nuns with more than 90 orphaned children that he had already helped for months: The Tulizeni Center.
While living at the orphanage, Marco also begins to go 4 times a week to the Goma juvenile prison to be able to heal, give bread and talk with the imprisoned children.
He stays at the Tulizeni Center for the duration of 6 months and it is there that Marco puts together his daily experiences with street children, experiences in Italy, the experience of the orphanage, in the juvenile prison and begins to put pen to paper. the project he has been bearing in his mind for some time.
He understands that giving bread on the street every day would certainly have done those children good, but it would not solve their problem. It would not be enough to get them off the street, from drugs, prostitution and vandalism.
He understands that something was needed that was in the middle between the street and the children’s home.
Thus, thanks to the offers collected in Italy through the evenings he makes each time he returns, thanks to the offers of other people and associations, Marco sees that the money would have been enough to put his project into practice.
In November 2019 Marco Rigoldi, together with a group of Italian friends, set up the “Center d’Accueil Saint Augustin ASBL” association in the initials CASA GOMA Association and in February 2020 the association was recognized by the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Marco looks for a house, rents it, buys furniture, curtains, school desks, blackboards, pots and everything needed to put his idea into practice.
On 13 July 2020, Marco Rigoldi opens the CASA Center, giving life to his dream, to the project that he had wanted to carry out for a long time.
Marco Rigoldi now lives in Goma with his wife Arielle who helps him in the management of the association and the projects of CASA GOMA Association.