‘La vie est un combat’ – ‘Life is a battle’. Even the bus companies in Congo have names that reflect realities. It’s never been easy for our partners in Congo. The challenges they face on multiple fronts leave them responding to crises on top of their roles of sustaining essential health and social services for poor people. We have written recently on challenges presented by disease, of which the Covid epidemic is just one of many acute threats. Sadly outbreaks of extreme violence continue to brutalise innocent populations living in the north east of DRC, acts committed by many of the 30+ armed groups still operating with relative impunity. We don’t often recount these stories, partly because they are too painful to describe, partly because we would rather write about the wonderful accounts of selfless service engaged in by our friends in Congo. Our annual report 2019 – 20 gives an overview of the variety of these projects and how your support goes such a long way, and in the five videos contained in our Semiliki Journey video you can hear directly from, and be inspired by, our generous Congolese friends (you can find out where some of the places mentioned in this blog are). You can also catch up any time on our stories.
On 8th February we heard from Mbambu who runs the Compassion Orphanage. they had received nine new children under-five in the days before, coming from villages that had been attacked to the north, west and south of Butembo. The parents of each child had been brutally killed and the children would have witnessed these atrocities. There are now 61 children in the orphanage, all with such high level of individual need, and the young ones with significant health and nutrition concerns. Meanwhile with ongoing pandemic response measures, the price of food has shot up, and Mbambu herself is recovering from a fractured arm after an accident on a motorbike taxi.
On Sunday 21st February we heard from Bisoke who runs the Anglican church’s youth department. He was at church at the Peace Centre in Bunia. The choir director was called out of the service to be told that her husband, who that morning had dropped her off early at church to go to harvest food from their fields to the north of the city, had been murdered by a rebel group, without any motive. Another man was killed near by that afternoon. In a separate event one week later Bwakadi village, south of Bunia, was attacked on the night of 28th February by rebels, who fired on the local population and burnt houses to the ground.
And violence continues on the road north of Goma towards Rutsuru near the border with Uganda (from where some of the orphan children have come to the Compassion Orphanage). Six park rangers from Virunga Natonal Park were killed in an ambush in January, and on 22nd February the Italian ambassador and two others were killed in an ambush. Semiliki supports projects run by Claudaline and team for orphans and women in Goma, many from Rutsuru, She speaks powerfully and with great compassion about carrying on the vision of her late husband Bishop Désiré, in the 3rd video in our Semiliki Journey.
By supporting Semiliki with your interest and resources you join us in resourcing people like Mbambu and Claudaline to respond to the enormous psychological, spiritual and physical needs of many who have suffered from violence. For those of you who pray, please pray that they will be able to maintain their compassion and energy when faced with such overwhelming needs, and that governance and security will improve in Congo so that these kind of brutal events are never repeated.