Where is the orphanage?
The orphanage is in eastern DRC, in a territory called Sud Kivu. It is in a mountainous region. In fact, Bukavu itself is at an elevation of 4,900 ft and the mountains where the orphanage is located are even higher at 6500 ft (over one mile high)! We have had visitors get altitude sickness when visiting the orphanage!
What happens when the children get sick?
The orphanage is located directly behind a large reference hospital. It is a very good hospital in the area and the children are put in private rooms with their own nurse when they stay there. They receive very good care, IV antibiotics if they need them, and testing as appropriate. If they are too sick for the hospital to treat, they can go to Bukavu and seek care at the Panzi Hospital.
What about water, isn't it unsafe to drink?
The village has their own source of water from a spring that is capped so it is very safe. I would drink it "straight up" when I visited. It is amazing water. However, just to be extra cautious all the formula the babies drink is made from water that has been boiled as well. I imagine this is why there is an overall lack of diarheal illness at the orphanage.
What about electricity, are they in the dark a lot?
The hospital (and the orphanage due to the location) operate on a hydroelectric power! There is good electricity. Pretty cool, huh?
Who care for the children?
There is a very committed and loving group of women who care for the babies and children at the orphanage. There is also a cook who has been there for over 40 years! And another older man who sews clothes. There is a night guard. And a day guard/gardener. In addition, the pastor that works in the hospital that comes and sings, prays, and teaches the children during the week. The mamas have been caring for the children from many many years. We did multiple trainings with them while we lived in DRC and often they would say, "don't forget us, pray for us as we love these children." Right now there are 5-6 women caring for 40 children during the day. We hope to increase this number.
Is it hot? Is it dangerous there?
No, it's actually very cool there, maybe because of the elevation and the location in the mountains. I loved the weather there actually! I never felt in ANY danger visiting the orphanage. It is off the beaten path and not a place that sees conflict.
Who are the fathers of the children? Are they soldiers? Are the children victims of the war in eastern DRC?
Most of the fathers are poor farmers or miners. Some don't have jobs and travel extensively to try to find a job to support their remaining family members. Unemployment is very high. The children are children of extremely poor families in eastern DRC, most in agriculture, making less than $1/day (formula costs $80/month/baby). I suppose, on a broad level, anyone that is from DRC has been impacted by war. The children lose their mothers to preventable diseases or preventable complications during birth, most of them die in childbirth.
Who runs the orphanage? Who are the donors?
The CELPA church of DRC runs the orphanage as well as the hospital, schools, clinics, and of course churches. This creates a very strong community that supports the orphanage. The babies are dedicated in the church and there are funerals for the babies that die. The children are brought to church as well. There are four donors that give funds to the orphanage. Reeds of Hope has been involved with the orphanage since February 2010.
I stayed overnight a couple of times and honestly, really thought I could live there! And in fact, there were Norwegian missionaries that raised their children in the village. It is an incredibly beautiful place.
Some of the babies listed on this post are in need of sponsors. As soon as our new site is up, you will have the opportunity to sponsor them! Thank you!