Toyota, Democratic Republic of Congo
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. Bertha’s mother began to suffer from depression, and her health diminished until she was in a critical condition with only Bertha to care for her. Bertha never went to school; instead she sold vegetables on the roadside each day so she and her mother could eat. A local pastor in Toyota found them on the street and took them into his home. They discovered that he had taken many families into his home when they had no place to go. The compassion he showed them was the beginning of many changes in Bertha’s life.
The pastor prayed continuously for Bertha, and provided her mother with counselling to help her talk about the loss of her husband and process the inner wounds she was suffering from. He was on the board of Tujenge Community Based Organisation in Toyota, a place where local Care Workers from the church volunteer care for the most vulnerable children. He introduced Bertha to Annie, a Care Worker. Annie could see how the years of trauma had affected Bertha. She was timid around adults and struggled to trust anyone. Annie committed to giving Bertha a better life.
Today, Bertha is learning to trust others through Annie’s care. Annie faithfully visits Bertha and has shown her that there are people who will love her and not abandon her. Tujenge Community Based Organisation provides Bertha with one healthy meal per day, so she does not have to sell vegetables on the road. This, in turn, allows Bertha to attend the community school run by Care Workers, where she is in grade 4 and is encouraged to interact with other children. She could easily have gone unnoticed in Toyota, where so many people are in need. But from the pastor to Annie, God is sending faithful people to give Bertha and her mother love and hope.