This update is from Rev. Sandra Gourdet, former Global Ministries Africa Area Executive.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second largest country in Africa. This mineral rich, unstable nation of nearly 70 million inhabitants with more than 200 languages is very diverse and complex. In war-torn eastern Congo, an area often referred to as “rape capital of Africa”, women rise above the negativity of a war that has been responsible for the death of more than 6 million people in the last decade to find healing for themselves and others. They refuse the labels that objectify them or limit them to being weapons of war as these do not characterize the positive ways in which they contribute to the crucial development of church and society. Week of Compassion has played a pivotal role in helping Congolese women realize their dream of a better world in the midst of tragedy and often despair.
Grants have allowed women in eastern Congo to start sustainable businesses enabling them to increase their skills and financial means to care for themselves, their children and to reintegrate into society with dignity. Beautiful handcrafted baskets and bags are examples of their creativity and determination. Young girls who have been sexually abused are given psychological and material support so that they are able to fend for themselves and the children they often carry as a result of the assault. Widowed women, who in many cases have been assaulted and forced to watch their husband die, are given a new lease on life with medical care and financial assistance.
In western Congo where approximately 800,000 members of the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo are located, Week of Compassion has been present with women in Mbandaka and nearby Bolenge assisting in diverse ways.
Family nutrition programs are the life line for malnourished children, and yet, simply feeding children is not the ultimate goal. Women are focused on obtaining the necessary skills that will allow them to continue feeding their families through sustainable agricultural projects. Women work in collaboration with the Bolenge Hospital to learn about good nutritional foods that can be grown at home to supplement other foods in their diet that are poor in nutritional value. The program also includes lessons on preventive health care for children.
Grateful for the assistance extended by Week of Compassion over the years, the women in Mbandaka are committed to giving to others from their limited resources. Each year they celebrate Compassion Sunday and the offering is designated for Week of Compassion. That spirit of giving is the rich gift that they offer to us.
This Week's Responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Democratic Republic of Congo, Ebola Relief
Ukraine, Refugee Assistance