The Story of KAMBOVE Community
Kambove is a mining community 27 kilometres north of Likasi with a population of 36,000. The closing of the mines devastated the local economy and left the infrastructure broken. With thousands out of work leaving fewer breadwinners in the home, Kambove saw a massive increase in prostitution, further exacerbating the spread of HIV in the region. Of the areas comprising Kambove community, the poorest is called Kiwewe. Here, with the intervention of Hands at Work, local churches came together to establish a Community Based Organisation of volunteers, committed to caring for the poorest of the poor. In 2009, Maisha (meaning “life”) Home Based Care was born, the only group in all of Kambove actively caring for children.
Children currently supported: 125
Number of Care Workers: 16
Distance from Likasi Local Office: 27 kM
Basic Services Started: 2010
Care Workers immediately identified more than 500 orphaned and vulnerable children who were desperately in need of care, and have since brought the poorest children into their care, providing them with access to the 3 essential services of food, education and health care, as well as visiting them regularly in their homes.
The mines have also polluted the water sources for the community, so there is just one clean water source for the entire community to access. Many people are using contaminated water for washing, cooking and drinking. The Care Point, which was constructed in 2015, is far from the water source, but with new toilets and space for children to feel free to play, life is springing up amongst the vulnerable of Kambove.
Local volunteer Care Workers are not only feeding children at the Care Point six days per week, but they are visiting them in their homes to become more involved in their lives. Always pressing in to reach the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable, the Care Workers from Kambove Community Based Organisation have recently done a reassessment of the children to ensure that those that they are reaching are in the most need of care. This led to an increase of children from 100 to 125 in July 2016.
Nardelie* is 7 years old and lives with his two siblings and their ailing grandmother. After the death of his father, his mother struggled to care for her family. She left her children with their grandmother and went in search of any means of work. She visits Nardelie just twice a month. Nardelie’s mother is so grateful for the second family her children have found at the Care Point, and the support of Mama Kalenga, their Care Worker.
The Hands at Work office in Likasi currently supports seven Community Based Organisations, which exist to care for the most vulnerable in their communities. The office provides training, networking, and encouragement to those Community Based Organisations like Maisha. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.
Care Workers are the key in bringing healing and transformation to the lives of our children. They are men and women from the local churches within our communities who recognize their Biblical mandate and answer their call to care for the most vulnerable children. They demonstrate what it means to give freely, love unconditionally, and sacrifice everything. Often, Care Workers face their own traumas and live in dire poverty, just as the children they care for do, but their determination to persevere and care despite their own circumstances challenges everyone they come into contact with. They are greatest in the Kingdom of God!
Just a few weeks ago, Blessings had the opportunity to return to the DRC and visit Praise again. He shares an update about him and says, “This year Praise turned three. Last year when I met him, he was very sick – at two years old he was not able to stand on his own. I had very little hope that he would make it in life. We surrounded him with prayer and interceded, but I still had little hope, and doubt overwhelmed my heart.
Praise’s grandmother Bertha began caring for him, but she was desperately poor and trying to survive. Praise was hungry - continually crying. People in the community said he would die and tried to put ritual charms around him but Bertha refused and knew God would provide. After her husband passed away many years ago, she said she learned to trust God throughout any hardship.
When Winnie’s* father died in 2010, she was only 2 years old. Her mother, Docile, was left alone to care for Winnie and her older sister and brother. Struggling to care for the family herself, while grieving the loss of her husband, was already a heavy burden for Docile to carry.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is infamously known as one of the poorest, most dysfunctional, and warn torn countries in the world. Erick Rukang, Hands at Work Leader in Likasi, DRC, reflects on the region around Goma:
Valentina* is only 7 years old, yet most of her life has been spent struggling to survive. When her father passed away, her mother was left with five children to care and provide for. In the extremely poor community of Kitabataba, finding income to buy food is almost impossible for the most vulnerable families.
At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Erick says, “God was speaking to me and clearly showed me a vision of me working with vulnerable children in my country.”
Kasongo’s story could have ended with her wandering the streets of Kikula with her siblings, desperately trying to survive. With no means of supporting herself, Kasongo began to suffer physically from a lack of food. The trauma of her father dying and the rejection of her mother abandoning her have left deep scars in this young girl.
When she was very young, Bertha’s father passed away. Her family members came and took everything belonging to him, a common cultural practise in Africa. Bertha and her mother were left to live on the streets of Toyota, one of the poorest communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.