Ranking second to last on the Human Development Index, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is plagued by a war in which three million people died between 1998 and 2003. Continued rebel attacks in the Eastern region of Goma led the United Nations (UN) to send in its first ever fighting force, reaching peace agreements in 2013 and now hosting the largest peacekeeping mission in the world. Rebel attacks still continue in parts of the country, fuelled by the developed world selling weapons to the DRC for immense economic resources including diamonds, copper, and cobalt. Thousands of boys and girls have been recruited and used by armed groups. Only 28% of children are registered at birth in DRC, making finding and accounting for missing children a massive crisis.
In the more stable province of Katanga in the south, Hands at Work has established a strong base in some of the poorest communities and from here has launched into supporting two communities on the outskirts of Goma in the North Eastern province of North Kivu. Due to the volatility, and environmental threat of a nearby active volcano, there are serious challenges in keeping life-giving services consistent as the most vulnerable have scattered into refugee camps. One fourth of orphaned children are currently not attending school. The rate of under 5 child mortality rages in the DRC; the country ranks 8th highest in the world. 86 infants under the age of 1 will die for every 1000 born. Only 38% of children sleep under a mosquito net, leaving the majority open to contracting malaria. 44% of children suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Young girls have a bleak future in DRC. 39% are married by age 18 and 25% will have a baby by the same age. 79% justify being beaten by their husbands, and only 13% of females have a comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
Hands at Work has found hope in local people who are giving their lives to bring transformation to their own communities. Though much of the population is cynical due to years of devastation, volunteers from the local church have still come forward in compassion to serve the most vulnerable children. Together with Hands at Work local leaders, these servants are standing strong and remaining faithful in the midst of serious challenges.
We envision the local church in Africa effectively caring for the dying, orphans and widows, and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa.
orphaned children (age 0-17): 4,000,000
under 5 mortality rating per 1000 live births: Female - 111 Male - 126
People living with hiv: 440,000
Life expectancy at birth: Female - 51 Male - 47
secondary School attendance:
female - 28% Male - 35%
population below the international
poverty line: 88%
Country rating (out of 187) on the Human Development index: 186
— Sources: UNAIDS, UNDESA 2014, UNICEF 2014