Small communities in regional Australia surprise us sometimes, the characters you meet and the things they achieve in life can seem amazing. Here in the Manning Valley one family is running programs in emergency medicine, sustainable food production and capacity building projects that assist community members in The Democratic Republic Of Congo to continue to fund school uniforms, lunches and other necessary materials.

Dr Vera Sistenich and Lucy Hobgood-Brown on site in the DRC – Image Credit HandUp Congo website

In 2005 Lucy Hobgood-Brown and her sister Anne Zolnor worked with their friend Betsy Brill to develop this small non government organisation. The idea came to them after Lucy and Anne had just visited the community with their father. More than 10 years later HandUp Congo is still going strong with the assistance of amazing skilled volunteers like Dr Vera Sistenich.


The whole team make regular return trips to the Congo, travelling into communities that are so remote that they can only be reached by dug out canoe.   Dr Sistenich has travelled back and forth with the team every year since 2015, she is working to assist emergency medical teams in their work.


In teams with no strong financial backing and little to no government support, she says, the lessons go both ways.