The Story of Kikula Community
In the Southern Region of Katanga, DRC is the community of Kikula. With a population of over 200,000, it is one of the largest slum townships on the outskirts of the bustling city of Likasi. In 1993, Kikula found itself in the epicentre of civil conflict, with rebel groups fighting for regional independence from the government. The conflict eventually passed over, but in its wake, left thousands of newly orphaned children. With the recurrence of war in Eastern Congo, this number has increased as more and more families and children flee the conflict and head south, most of them ending up in poor communities like Kikula.
Children currently supported: 100
Number of Care Workers: 12
Coordinator Name: Dodo Muzaila
Distance from Likasi Local Office: 17 Km
Basic Services Started: 2010
Though it hosts the largest market in the Likasi area, food is still scarce in the community of Kikula. Many people in the community cannot afford to feed their families due to the high levels of unemployment in the community. Farming is difficult here too, as the mines have polluted the land and the streams. Due to high unemployment amongst the large population, access to education and health care is something most people cannot afford.
The local volunteer Care Workers have come together and continue to develop Mapendo Community Based Organisation (CBO) with the help of the local Hands at Work office. The CBO is able to shop in the market, and benefit from the lower prices there. This also means that the community has better access to more affordable secondhand clothes and blankets, although these are still too expensive for the most vulnerable of the community.
The Care Workers meet regularly in a Relationship Group to talk together, share their personal stories, and to find God’s healing for their struggles so that they can pass this love on to the most vulnerable children in Kikula. It is their call to answer the biblical mandate from James 1:27, to care for the orphaned and widowed in their distress. They are currently providing a daily hot nutritious meal to 100 children. Because of the great need in Kikula the Care Workers are being helped by the local Hands at Work office to understand the importance of caring holistically for the 100 that are under their care.
Jaelle* is just 12 years old. In a community where young girls are often married off, Jaelle is vulnerable to the abuses and unwanted attention of those who would seek to abuse her. Every evening she is left alone to care for her four-year-old brother. Their stepfather must leave them to work as a security guard. He earns a small wage monthly to support his family, but it is still not enough for all their needs. Through the love and support of the local Care Workers in Kikula, Jaelle and her family do not have to carry their burdens alone.
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 Kikula. 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.