Jan and Mado are two women who are overcoming the odds in the community of Likasi in (DRC), Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are two women who are using the power of friendship to survive and they are two women who live out love in action daily. Both Jan and Mado are widowed and, years ago, found support in each other when their lives began to crumble and fall apart.
Mado’s husband was killed in 2003 in a mining accident and left the family without a source of income. Consequently Mado and her seven children were evicted from their house. The family sought refuge in an abandoned school house where they still live to this day. It was during this period of grief and crisis that Mado found a true friend in Jan. Mado says that Jan was one of the only people who saw her through the pain of loss.
Jan’s story is similar in pain and tragedy. Jan, her husband, and their six children were living with relatives and during this stay her husband became very ill. Very quickly he died, and the relatives, instead of comforting and supporting the remaining family, chose to abandon Jan and her children and evict them out into the street. Not knowing where to go, Jan went to her friend Mado and was taken in without question.
Both women were assaulted with the brutality of reality and instead of accepting the defeat, the women took hold of each other and stood up again. With the support of each other, they have rebuilt a life that is outside of the conventional box that society dictates as normal. Jan and Mado and their children were discovered in 2005 by local volunteers from the Hands at Work supported Esperance Home Based Care, a collection of local Christians joined together to care for the most vulnerable people in Likasi. The volunteers within Esperance have been visiting the two women weekly ever since to pray and encourage them with verses from the Bible.
The family is partially supported by Jan who buys used goods and resells things at the market, and partially supported by Mado who grows maize on a small plot of land. Even with both women working, it is often not enough for the family to consistently eat one meal each day. Esperance volunteers cook food three times each week at a church within the community of Likasi and the children attend the feeding point as much as possible.
Because school fees are expensive, only six of the thirteen children are attending. Sometimes even the ones who attend school must stay home because the family does not have enough to pay for the month’s fees.
Jan and Mado are making the most and best with what they have. The abandoned schoolhouse is sectioned into rooms with tarp and pieces of cloth. Jan and her children sleep on one side and Mado and her children on the other, all on straw mats or pieces of plastic. The fifteen-person family shares a corner of the schoolhouse where they cook maize on a coal-burning stove.
They credit their survival and perseverance to the support found in their friendship, the encouragement of Esperance volunteers, and to God for keeping them under his eye and providing for what they need.