Sunday, September 1, 2013

Doing the unbelieveable

One of the biggest misconceptions I face as I talk about alternative care (if family reunification isn't possible) is the belief that there are not people in Congo that would take in orphans and vulnerable children if they aren't related to them.  And furthermore,  IF they did take them in they would be treated like slaves and abused. 

It simply isn't true.   I wanted to share about an encouraging and inspiring woman I met in DRC.

Congolese women and men take in orphaned and vulnerable children daily and care for them as their own.  They may not always have the resources they need to care for them like they would like, but they use everything they have at their disposal.  (Of course, there will always be the situations in DRC and also all over the world where orphaned and vulnerable children are taken in and abused.  However, this is not the majority of situations, they are the minority.  And attitudes towards orphans can change.)

When I visited eastern DRC in June I visited with a woman that has taken in and continues to raise children who need a home: children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or their surviving parent was unable to care for them (or extended relatives could not be found or were unable to care for them).  She is unrelated to the children.  She raises them as her own, they sleep in her house, in her bed, and most importantly, they call her mama.  They are sent to school.  The older ones help care for the younger ones.  The rooms are small and children sleep crowded together in beds.  Food sometimes is scarce, but there is always something to eat. 

The youngest child she cares for is an infant and the oldest is a 18 year old woman who hopes to be a teacher.  Many of her children are teenagers, most have been with her since infancy.   Teenagers that are not on the streets, that are attending school and have dreams and aspirations for the future. 

The children that live with this amazing woman are happy, full of energy and life, and hopeful despite their hardships.  They are her children.

She and her husband not only raise the children in her home, but they also reach out and try to help 70 more north of the city.  Her resources are small, she relies on donations from those that know of her love for helping vulnerable children in her midst.  She calls her home Bethlehem.

She is one of many around the city that take in children and raise them as their own.  

Here are some of the faces of the children that call her mother.  That are a part of a loving family.  Many of the children she has taken into her life and heart are just like the children we support, a parent died.  For some of the children we support that won't be able to be reunited with their family, alternative care models in country keep children in families and out of institutions.  You can see the differences in their faces and smiles.  Children should be in families.  Not in institutions. 

I will be sharing more about this amazing woman and the children that call her mama in the days and weeks ahead.  Thank you for caring about the beautiful children and their courageous and brave caregivers in eastern DRC.  

1 comment:

Ann Maouyo said...

Holly-- Djik and I were invited last month to attend the triennial conference of the French-speaking African Christian student fellowships (sister movements to IVCF in the US), for which we worked as staff back in the 80s. We met both old friends and new, including many alums who are around our age. We were struck by how many of these African families had "adopted" children, many of them not blood relations (and for some, who were working in countries other than their birth nations, children who were of different ethnicities and/or nationalities)--just because God had brought these children into their lives and they responded with open hearts and hands. Some had been adopted as young children but also many as adolescents who no longer had families of their own. All this is just to confirm, YES, God's people in Africa do have a heart for adoption and practice it with marvelous grace and compassion.