To say that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a difficult place is an understatement. Decades of war, rebellion, and governmental corruption have resulted in extensive poverty and need. According to the United Nations World Food Program, about two thirds of the population live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day and lack access to adequate food. The situation is even more extreme in the eastern parts of the country where Harvesters International’s ministry partner is located. The reality that children are often the most vulnerable to the harsh impacts of such circumstances is easily seen in the DRC. Without someone’s help, countless orphans are destined to crime and prostitution just to survive. Harvesters International’s partner in the DRC, the Union of Baptist Churches, is being used by God to bring desperately needed care to a number of these precious children. Aside from their extensive church planting efforts, the UBC led by Pastor Athanase Habimana is housing, feeding, and educating 55 children at the Orphans Framing Center near the city of Goma. These children have lost their parents to war, disease, and other causes and face a critical need in their lives. At the Orphan Framing Center, they receive three meals per day, have adult supervision, attend school, receive health care, and are taught about the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
On my recent visit to the Orphan’s Framing Center, the unmistakable evidences of the joy and excitement of youth and childhood were abundant. Smiles, laughter, and energetic soccer games all happening in a country known for its harshness. Conversations with the children quickly reveal hopes and dreams for a full life, even in the context of overwhelming difficulty and challenge. Twelve year old Eliya Kasiwa is a happy boy with a warm smile whose parents died some time ago. He loves to play soccer and wants to be a professional athlete. Kahindo Safi grins as she talks about enjoying singing for God and washing dishes! Her hope is to one day be a nurse. Bonheur is eight years old and loves to laugh and play. His faded orange t-shirt, which said “Don’t Bother Me…I’m Busy being Awesome”, caught my eye. Both Bonheur’s parents were killed by soldiers several years ago. He wants to be a pastor when he is older.
Looking ahead, the opportunity to bring hope to the lives of many more children is ever present. One member of our recent team took this touching photograph that he looks at often now that he is home in the U.S. The picture is of a young boy standing on the outside of the fence that surrounds the Orphans Framing Center. The child is looking intently over the fence and watching as a meal is being served. This photograph is a reminder of the needs that remain for the children of the DRC. We look forward to touching more and more young lives as God supplies through His people.
Harvesters International appreciates everyone who is currently supporting our efforts to bring hope to the children and adults of the DRC. For more information on ways to help, including child sponsorship, please contact me by phone at 252-230-9742 or email at [email protected]
By Doug Radford, Harvesters International Ministries