|Brief History of
Naomi and Don Cole with children
Andrew, Stephanie and Paul
Having labored in Angola for eighteen years, veteran missionaries Don and Naomi Cole returned to the United States with their three teenage children in 1965. Admidst the rumblings that would lead to one of Africa's longest and most brutal civil wars, they left behind many friends, as well as a growing school, church and medical clinic.
Thirty years later, during a window of peace, letters began to trickle out of Angola with news of hardship and heartbreak. In 1997, Pastor Cole, his son Andrew, and African daughter Olga returned to Angola's central highlands where they had lived, in order to assess the effects of the prolonged war.
They found the country devasted. Many friends had died from wounds, starvation and disease. Thousands of others had fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries. It was evident that outside help was desperately needed.
In response, Don and Naomi continued to focus their energies to help in Angola, while in May 2000, Andrew and his wife, Lynn, led a short-term relief mission team to the Osire Refugee Camp in Namibia. The great need, combined with the vibrant spirit of the refugees, had a powerful impact on the team. This inspired the formation of a not-for-profit organization in May 2001, called the African Refugee Committee (ARC). ARC Programs were designed to provide relief, development and community care to Angolan refugees.
With the arrival of peace in Angola, ARC changed its name to RISE International and began to operate primarily within Angola. RISE embraced a dream to impact Angola through education and resolved to address the underlying obstacles by leading an effort to help rebuild the educational system.