The Team

Heidi – Co-Founder & Director

professional shotHeidi has been involved with youth and community work for over fifteen years, working for various charities including time living in DRC. Her heart is firmly rooted both in DRC and in the UK: whilst she is a keen traveller, Heidi also loves coming home to family and friends, and a good cup of tea. In her spare time, she loves to sing, surf, ski and arrange wedding flowers!

Heidi leads on The Congo Tree’s strategic development, training and quality assurance, partnerships and funding/fundraising, and oversees the UK and DRC Teams.

Contact her on: heidi@thecongotree.org.uk

Medi – DRC Team Leader

MediMedi is a young Congolese who loves his country for all the beauty it contains, including the young people. He is aware that young people have been affected as a consequence of war, hampering their ability to see the future and prepare big visions. But with peace, young people have started to realise that they can do some great things for their country. Medi helped set up an organisation called BADEN Developpment, which works with many children and young people in and around Goma, DRC. Medi’s heart is to teach young people that they are capable of many things, which he sees is also the vision of The Congo Tree. He wants to live out the truth that ‘by our actions that we can change our community and if we change the communities we will also change the world’.

Medi leads the DRC Team; overseeing all aspects of our work and strategic development of programmes in DRC. He co-ordinates our facilitators; training, equipping and supporting them to run our programmes and meetings. He leads on all of our programmes and partner work.

Contact him on: medi@thecongotree.org.uk

Elizabeth – DRC Team – Organisation Officer

Liz supports the team with planning and logistics for all of our events – training, conferences and field trips – amongst other things. She’s integral to keeping us moving!

Contact her on: organisation@thecongotree.org.uk

Sage – DRC Team – Mentoring and Participation Officer

sageSage oversees our mentoring scheme, supporting our Leader Mentors, and is in charge of pastoral care of participants. He also leads on our schools work and coordinates prayer support in DRC.

Contact him on: mentoring@thecongotree.org.uk

Toussaint – DRC Team – Engagement Officer (Intern)

Toussaint supports and reports on our young people’s social action and creative enterprises within the community. He works with the DRC team to identify any gaps in the young people’s knowledge or experience and is our contact point for partners who can come in to support further development. He supports our UK team with updates and photos so that we can keep everyone up-to-date with what The Congo Tree is doing!

Toussaint grew up in a Christian home and credits his mother with encouraging him to have a strong faith. He started supporting young people when he was still young himself – he served his church choir to look after younger members, later becoming a chaplain. He has been involved in the creation of two youth groups: he is Coordinator of one and the Vice-Coordinator of youth at parish level within his church group. Toussaint believes that the change that the world is waiting for will only come through conscious and active young people.

Contact him on: engagement@thecongotree.org.uk

Muhindo – DRC Team – Founding Member

Transformed by the love of Jesus Christ, Muhindo is an emerging leader from the DR Congo who desires to see people equipped, empowered and Africa transformed. He loves playing guitar and reading, especially anything written by C.S. Lewis.

Muhindo supports The Congo Tree with all things legal and HR related, and by sharing his immense wisdom as we review our programmes, procedures, and take care of young people.

Philippa – UK Team Leader

19441840_10154618279806027_7078843773907934511_oPhilippa is a singer-songwriter and has had the pleasure of performing at a couple of The Congo Tree’s events in Birmingham. Having just finished her time at a charity that supports university students, Philippa is really excited to be a part of The Congo Tree team.

Philippa is our UK Team Leader, social media queen and key contact person for our updates, events, and our UK schools and youth groups work.

Contact her on: philippa@thecongotree.org.uk

Harmony – UK Team

harmonyFor Harmony, it was a trip back home to Kinshasa in 2017 that sparked a desire to help build a prosperous future for Congo: “I feel called to helping Congolese youth, both in the UK and in Congo, to fulfil their potential and live as useful members of society.” Harmony is an outgoing person who loves to sing, dance, and spend time with friends and family.

Harmony is currently working for Comic Relief and is volunteering with The Congo Tree to support us with fundraising and event planning.

Contact her on: harmony@thecongotree.org.uk

Anna – UK Team – Programme Development

annaAnna is a keen traveller and loves nothing better than exploring the great outdoors, especially if this involves being on a surf board or walking on, near or around mountains. Spending quality time with her friends (both old and new) is also important to her, as is plenty of time to curl up with a good book.

Anna is a trained Clinical Psychologist who is working with The Congo Tree to develop programmes to support young people who have experienced trauma, and to train up our facilitators and mentors to improve their skills in walking that journey with young people.

Contact her on: anna.galloway@thecongotree.org.uk

Chloe – UK Team – Grants and Fundraising

Chloe is passionate about providing young people with the tools and opportunities to achieve amazing things. Chloe has a background in working and volunteering within youth development in the UK, and abroad in remote communities. Having witnessed first-hand the extreme effects conflict can have on a country from her operational experience as an Army Officer, Chloe hopes to help support The Congo Tree in it’s mission. In her spare time, she enjoys playing hockey for her local club, and volunteers with the children and youth section to inspire the next generation of young players.

Contact her on: chloe.russell@thecongotree.org.uk

Our Board of Trustees

Steve – Chair of the Board of Trustees

SteveSteve is the Director and the Pastoral Support team leader at ChaplaincyPlus, a Birmingham based charity which supports, encourages and resources professionals in the business community. His career began in sales and business development, moving into marketing and fundraising and various other roles with the YMCA. He has recently set up a publishing business with his wife, and contributes to his local hockey team where two of his three children are members. Steve enjoys playing sports, in particular football and table tennis. He brings a wide range of skills to the team, as well as endless and infectious enthusiasm!

Contact him on: steve.bavington@thecongotree.org.uk

Jane – Charity Secretary

janeJane’s career has been in IT, in various roles from development to Project Management. She moved on to work for a conservation charity and has previously cycled all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a charity fundraiser. Aside from her love of cycling, Jane likes being by the sea, and listening to Davie Bowie. For her, “becoming involved with The Congo Tree was easy with the infectious enthusiasm of Heidi and Amy for the education of young people.”

Amy – Co-Founder & Trustee

amyAmy spent six years working for Tearfund in the West and Central Africa team, two and a half years of which were focusing on Congo, with one of those years spent living in a small village in the east, in South Kivu. Amy dreamed of working and living in the Congo years before she was able to get there and has always been drawn to the country because of the extremes of its beauty and potential and yet unimaginable poverty. Amy is a Northern Irish born Canadian with a huge heart for the Congo (and a slightly confused identity)!

Hebdavi – Trustee and Founding Member

Hebdavi has worked in the field of development for over ten years and is currently working with Tearfund in DRC. He has worked in youth ministries in church for many years and believes whole-heartedly that the youth are the hope for Africa and that transformation is possible. Hebdavi loves music, is an excellent drummer, and has some mad dance skills! He is a big adventurer and loves taking risks, when he hasn’t got his head in a development economics textbook. As well as being a Manchester United supporter, he has recently discovered a love for volleyball, but what he enjoys most at the moment is spending time with his lovely wife and daughters.

“I believe in a better Congo and a better life for my daughter than what I had to go through. To achieve this, we’ll need improved leadership. What better way to do this than to start investing in the youth now so that we have better leadership tomorrow. This is why I embraced the mission and vision of The Congo Tree…”

Sarah – Trustee

Sarah is the UK Director of GAiN (Global Aid Network), the international development arm of the charity Agape. She studied her Masters in Poverty Reduction and International Development at the University of Birmingham.

Zsuzsanna – Treasurer

zsuzsannaZsuzsanna has worked for large organisations in the energy and telecommunications industries, in roles from operations to team management to financial controlling. She is also a passionate teacher and trainer, with a certificate to teach English as a foreign language and experience as a Salsa dance instructor. She is involved with the Hungarian community in the UK, is a keen traveller and is also the current Chair of the London Toastmasters public speaking club.

Ben – Trustee

Ben has been working in the humanitarian sector for six years, with two and a half years spent in DRC with Tearfund. Passionate about seeing young people leading transformation in their communities from his time with War Child UK, he’s looking to bring his international experience to The Congo Tree. Outside of work he’s a long suffering Newcastle United fan and keen guitarist.