Since the first invasion into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), almost 2 decades ago, more than 5 million people have died in the deadliest conflict the world has seen since the Second World War. It’s an incomprehensible truth when one stops to consider the scale. Each one known to somebody. Each with a face and a name. Each with a story to tell of a life lived or yet to be lived. The Congo is a beautifully vast and mineral-rich landscape in central Africa but it also bears the scars of wars that have raged for many years and are continuing to terrorise its people. Half of Congo’s inhabitants are under 14 and have only ever known war.
Furaha was born in Goma, in Eastern Congo. At just 4 years old, Furaha’s entire existence has been characterised by instability. She is a refugee in her own country, running constantly from the threat of rebel invasion and oppression. The war killed her father. Furaha and her mother desperately sought shelter with other war widows and their children, but food was scare and access to even basic medical supplies was impossible. Desperation is written all over Furaha’s face and yet, Furaha could not be picked out of a crowd. There are millions of children just like her.
In Goma, tens of thousands of people are displaced and find themselves in over-run and unsafe refugee camps which offer little protection or provision for the traumatised and vulnerable. People are too scared to return to their destroyed villages and too damaged by the brutality and oppression they have suffered at the hands of rebels. Women, left traumatised by abuse and rape, bear deep emotional scars, and carry, too, the resultant children. Used as a cruel and barbaric instrument of war, rape will give birth to a new generation of children who will be born into brokenness and chaos.
In one of the refugee camps lives our own ‘Mother Theresa’. A lady whose compassion for the orphaned singled her out in her own village. In Luhonga , a village on the outskirts of Goma, she fought for the children the world does not know. The ones who have only ever known fear. She was there when these children gathered in a hut, all desperate and all terrorised, for their first ever plate of nutritious food. Women like this are named by Hands at Work as ‘Mother Theresa’ because their desire to bring hope and life stands in contradiction to their environment, to their own stories of brutal abuse and to the threat that constantly surrounds them. They are light and life to the most vulnerable. And yet, our Mother Theresa from Luhonga is not in her village caring for the children she has been called to serve. She is too afraid. She remains in the refugee camp and is terrified of returning to her home for fear of another invasion.
And yet, the world is unaware. A raging conflict, on a world-war scale, rages in the Congo. And the faces of those most affected are unknown to the world: The children kidnapped to become child soldiers, joining a military regime that killed their own parents, and thousands of women who fled their own homes after they were raped and abused, many of whom had witnessed their own husbands, sons and neighbours being slaughtered.
Hands at Work are 100% committed to reaching the poorest and most vulnerable people in Africa today. And these people include little girls like Furaha and our ‘Mother Theresa’s’ in the DRC. We will stand up for them and make their stories known. We will know their names. We will know their faces. And we will fight for them.
Will you join us?
In Goma, we are working in 2 villages, Luhonga and Buhimba, where poverty and the number of orphans is extremely high, and support services and levels of safety and protection is very low. The threat of rebel invasion and displacement is constant.
But you can join us by doing something amazing with your VOICE, your RESOURCES and your TIME to serve the most vulnerable people in the DRC and across Africa.
PRAY for children like Furaha and for peace to prevail across the DRC.
SPEAK UP for the men and women who are trying to care for the most vulnerable in their communities and tell others about what is happening in Goma.
To learn more about what it means to ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ in countries across Africa, visit our Advocate page.
SUPPORT Hands at Work financially to ensure we can continue to travel into the DRC and to support the work in the poorest villages with the most vulnerable children.
To give towards our work in the DRC or to find out more, contact Hands at Work in Africa: firstname.lastname@example.org