The Story of KiTABATABA Community
Kitabataba is a township on the outskirts of the bustling city of Likasi in southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It has become one of the region’s poorest communities, devastated by the civil war of 1993, and is still affected by the decimated infrastructure that the war left in its wake. Along with the many children orphaned since the civil conflict, many more vulnerable families have fled the more recent conflict in eastern DRC and found a home in crowded slums like Kitabataba. Institutional models of care such as clinics, hospitals, orphanages and even schools are scarce in Kitabataba. For this reason, the children are left all the more vulnerable.
Children currently supported: 100
Number of Care Workers: 14
Coordinator Name: PAPA IRUNG
Distance from Likasi Local Office: 8 KM
Basic Services Started: 2011
In 2011, Hands at Work entered Kitabataba for the first time, mobilising local church leaders to take up the Biblical mandate to care for the poorest of the poor in their community. Volunteer Care Workers from a number of churches identified the most vulnerable children in the area, and began to visit them daily in their homes, bringing parental love and care, as well as feeding them what little they could from their own resources. In 2012, the provision of daily food, access to education and basic health care was introduced to 50 of the most vulnerable children in Kitabataba. Today, the Kitabataba Care Workers visit and care for 100 children, bringing support and encouragement and hope for a brighter future.
The Care Point where they meet is currently at a local church, but the space is small and the situation unsustainable. It is here that they provide a daily hot, nutritious meal, as well as help with basic health and basic education. In Kitabataba, Care Workers know that this is not enough on its own. They have committed to knowing the children by name and visiting them in their homes to better understand their struggles and needs. Having learned how to help carry the burdens of their fellow Care Workers and bring healing through weekly Relationship Groups, they have also brought the same level of spiritual and emotional healing to the homes of the children they regularly visit.
At 11 years old, Lumumba* spends many nights alone in abandoned buildings and half-built structures. After the death of both of his parents, he was taken in by an aunt. Lumumba’s aunt is a very broken woman, and is unable to care for him in a loving way. Lumumba often runs away from his home. Care Workers are working closely with Lumumba’s aunt in a commitment to ensure he has a safe home life. Lumumba feels safe at the Care Point and knows he has many mother and father figures there to rely on. He knows they love him and care for him.
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 Nyota. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.
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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.