MCC photo/Mulanda Juma

Merveille Cilanda, 4, feeds her sister Rose Muadi, 1, as Naomie Mbuyi, 4, eats beans distributed by Communauté Evangélique Mennonite, an MCC partner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The girls and their parents were displaced from their home in the Kasai region by violence between  government and armed groups.  

Children who ran away from violence in their villages in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) tell heartbreaking stories, like this one: 

All the family of Kapinga Ntumba, 12, were killed or died.MCC photo/Mulanda Juma

“My name is Kapinga Ntumba. (She is a 12-year-old girl). I am from Kamonya village in Kasai Province. I am displaced since April 2017. I am alone.

“Armed men entered our house and killed my father. My mother was killed by the soldiers when she was trying to come out of the house with some items. I came to Tshikapa with one of my sisters and she passed away. The rest of my family was killed.

“I am taken care of by a lady whose name is Mary. We are living in a church down there in Tshikapa. We eat bedia (a thick porridge made of cassava or maize). I was at school before I left. I need to go to school.”

Mennonite churches respond with school supplies

Mennonite church leaders in DR Congo heard many stories like this and asked other Anabaptists around the world, including MCC, for help to meet these needs. In late March and early April, the children pictured below and children in Tshikapa and Kikwit received school supplies and their school fees were paid.

 

Communauté Evangélique Mennonite distributed school supplies to these students in Kabwela. Similar distributions were carried out in Kikwit and Tshikapa where Kapinga is staying.MCC photo/Mulanda Juma

The fighting, which began in August 2016 when local militia group Kamuina Nsapu and national security forces clashed, incited ongoing battles in the Kasai region. As a result, 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes, including 5,000 Mennonites. Here's another story that is echoed by many:

While Kapinga Abeti's village was attacked, she was separated from her husband and three of her children.MCC photo/Mulanda Juma

“My name is Kapinga Abeti. I am from Kamonya village. Last summer, a militia group attacked our village. My family was separated during that violence. My husband and three children went in a different direction than I did with our other children. I arrived here in Tshikapa in September 2017. After that, one of my children died. She was a girl, age 13. Here, we are seven people, me and six children. Their health is not good.

“The clothes we wear are given by church members. Sometimes finding drinking water is difficult. We get water from the river because we have no money to buy clean water, but that water is very dirty. We eat cooked cassava and potato leaves, potatoes and we eat bedia (a thick porridge made of cassava or maize). We eat once a day. We eat when we ask someone to give us food. Sometimes we go to bed without eating.

“We are currently sleeping under mosquito nets, but on the floor. We don’t have a good place. When it rains, we are wet. Children need to be fed. They need clothes and to go to school.

Mennonite churches provide food

So Mennonites in DR Congo responded with a distribution of food in November and again in March and April. More than 800 households received a three-month supply of food packages of flour, beans, oil and salt this spring.

Mamie Mbuyi holds her baby, Rose Muadi, as she and her husband, Jacques Katayi, and their other children, Naomie Mbuyi and Merveille Cilanda, eat beans that they just received from a food distribution earlier in the morning. The family has been staying in Kabwela after being displaced from their home by violence in Kasai.

After the distribution, families, like the one pictured, tended to cook the beans first because it had been so long since they had eaten them, said Mulanda Juma, the MCC representative in DR Congo. Their primary meal has been bedia, a thick porridge made of maize flour.

Congolese Mennonite churches were able to carry out these distributions because people gave money to numerous Anabaptist organizations around the world that supported the food purchases. Canadian Foodgrains Bank was a significant supporter of the spring distribution.

 

How can you help MCC serve displaced people in DR Congo?

Learn: Look at the links below to learn more about the situation. Also visit Canadian Mennonite to see a 2017 article about the crisis.

Pray: When you pray for someone, your heart follows.

Give: Support our relief projects in DR Congo. 

Tell: Share this video on social media.

 

Organizations supporting these distributions that MCC helps to coordinate include Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission; Caisse de Secours, the development arm of the French Mennonite Church; International Community of Mennonite Brethren; MB Mission; Mennonite Church Canada Witness; Mennonite Mission Network; Mennonite World Conference; and Swiss Mennonite Conference.

 

 

 

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