War-torn, rebel-ridden, poor and down-trodden Goma: It's hard to believe that things can get worse for the vulnerable communities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). After refugee camps closed across the DRC and in neighboring countries on the eve of the country's 50th independence anniversary, groups of stunned and, again, displaced people congregated to form makeshift communities.
Here is an extract from the account of Hands at Work founder, George Snyman's, first visit to the area a little more than a year ago: "The eight-year, bloody war has been over for seven years, but the fighting continues. Despite this, the government which is celebrating its 50th year of independence, has closed most of the refugee camps scattered across the eastern provinces of the DRC leaving millions of people homeless. Left with little choice, refugees are returning to their burned-down, vandalized towns often without family members. Stunned, groups of people - unrelated other than sharing the same adversity - congregate to from huddles of make-do communities." (Read a second letter about Goma here.)
One such community is called Luhonga. It is remote, poor and extremely vulnerable. George and Hands at Work DRC representative, Erick Rukang, made a follow-up trip to this community a few months ago and started work in the area. Erick is presently back in Luhonga and found the village awash with a cholera outbreak. Known for his compassion towards suffering children, he wrote a letter to the Hands at Work Hub yesterday:
We found the village of Luhonga in a big crisis. The entire village is in profound distress, but they were strengthened when they saw us. One care worker lost her child in this incident.
The Luhonga people were very grateful for George's last visit. They said that if he did not come at that particular time, teaching about emergency medication to fight diarrhoea, all the children could have died at this time; perhaps even the entire village! So far only one child has died though the clinic is full of patients laying everywhere, even on the floor. Almost everyone--from the leaders to the children--has been affected. Tomorrow [Monday, 31 October] we will look for a way to purify the water.
We are so grateful for your prayer support. Your prayers are effective: It is amazing to see children surviving in such critical conditions, a situation of desperation. All the people are frightened because of death on their doorstep, especially in light of the other challenges they are facing.
We invite you to intercede with us for all those residing in Lahonga: the widows, orphans, leaders, clinic staff and Hands at Work representatives. Let's pray for no more deaths, for a quick and effective intervention, for wisdom and strength for Erick and his team, and that God will use this seemingly hopeless situation to transform and strengthen the community.