Saturday, November 24, 2012

and who will watch over the least of these

My husband and I have been talking a lot about Congo the last few weeks.  We've talked about our friends that live in Bukavu, the city we called home for 4 1/2 years.  We talk about the recent upsurge in violence and the take over of Goma.  We talk about the constant ongoing war, insecurity, displacement, poverty, death, and suffering.

Today we talked about the fear of knowing that if you are an average person in the area we lived in, there wasn't anyone to watch over you, to protect you.  Any given day, in times of increased conflict (like now) or times when the level of violence was constant but not in the public eye, you might find yourself targeted by petty thieves, by military, by police, by rebels.  And there wouldn't be anyone to call to come to your aid.  Fear.  Some resort to vigilante justice.  And honestly, I can understand why.

Protests in the areas where we lived were fairly common.  Protests that sometimes turned violent.  Anger about the lack of protection and basic human rights.  Anger about the lack of water, the lack of electricity.  Anger about promises broken, corruption, constant bribery, government failure, extortion.  Anger about the lack of trust in each other.

When there is a general lack of security and infrastructure you already don't have a buffer.  You are already full of worry and anxiety every night walking home.  You already are thankful for each day that you are given where you find your children healthy, your job intact, enough food for that day, water to cook with and maybe a little extra to send your child to school.  You don't take life for granted and you mourn and grieve for those that have died as passionately as you celebrate a marriage of those you love.

You learn not to trust your government, the police, the military, or any other group that should protect you and your family.  Violence is a normal way of life.  You have seen take overs before, you know what it can bring and you know what it could mean to your family.

And if you live in a village outside of the bigger city, this may be your daily life.  You may have planted your crops and seen them grow only to have a military or rebel group come through and steal the fruits of your labor.  You may have evacuated from one village to another only to have your children and wife die of cholera within a week.  You may be eking out a life in a refuge camp only to have a new group come and you flee for your life again.

The recent violence in eastern DRC is not new.  It is ongoing for so many.  It is complicated.  There are not easy answers.  But we must not turn our eyes away from this beautiful country and its incredible people.  Who are people just like us who want security and safety for ourselves and our families.  Who deserve dignity and respect and equal human rights.  We are a necessary part to making change happen, we need to listen, we need to not stay silent.  We need to support those working on the ground and around the world to help stop the violence and to work towards lasting peace.

If you are a praying person, here is a wonderful guide to praying for Congo which was put out from the Anglican Church in Congo.

There are so many organizations on the ground doing wonderful work in eastern DRC.  Here are a brief few.  Feel free to post comments linking to more.

Heal Africa
Women for Women
Panzi Hospital 
City of Joy
Food for the Hungry (this is who we worked for in DRC)
Eastern Congo Initiative 

the children of congo

For all of you who support our work in eastern Congo, the orphanage is in a remote location not threatened by the new violence at this time.  If you are interested in what we are doing, we now have a facebook page.  And our website is www.reedsofhope.org.

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