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Date: 
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On the Run: 19 Orphans, 17 Sisters Need Your Help Now

Give nowWe just received a devastating update about the violence erupting in DR Congo, which has a direct effect on the Ndekesha Orphans and the Sisters of the Friends of Christ. Thankfully, the children and sisters are safe, but they have been through a traumatic ordeal in recent weeks. The Church has been attacked, forcing priests, religious sisters, seminarians, and bishops to go into hiding. Churches have been burned, including monstrances still containing the Blessed Sacrament! 

As violence continues to escalate, we wanted to give you a more complete picture of the conflict in DR Congo.

Here are 5 things you need to know:

  1. DR Congo has been in and out of civil war for decades. Violence has been steadily increasing since last fall, when the president refused to step down at the end of his constitutionally imposed term limit.*
     
  2. More than 3,000 people have died since October. The UN estimates that more than 1.3 million people have been displaced.* 
     
  3. The Church has been heavily targeted. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in the Diocese of Luebo was desecrated on March 31. This is the seat of our friend and supporter of Ndekesha Orphanage, Bishop Pierre Celestin. He has fled the diocese for his safety. 
     
  4. Pope Francis has condemned the violence and has called all the faithful to pray for peace in DR Congo.*
     
  5. The militias find new recruits by exploiting the economic crisis. "The militias are arming young people who can't continue studies and have no work; in these conditions, for $20, you can manipulate whomever you wish," said Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe.

"We know that in the hands of good people, $20 does even more good."

Norbert

 

 

RELATED: Ide Maka, Catholic World Mission's local Atlanta partner to Ndekesha Orphanage, will deliver new monstrances to the Diocese of Luebo after they were destroyed in the desecration of St. Jean-Baptiste Cathedral on March 31.

If $20 can cause so much harm in the hands of people with malicious intent, we know that in the hands of good people, $20 does even more good.

 

 

Here's what your donation today will directly provide for the Ndekesha orphans:

Sister w caption

  1. Secure lodgings with enough room to play and grow (36 people are currently crammed into a tiny one-room apartment!)
  2. Nutritious meals three times a day
  3. Much-needed medicine
  4. Education
  5. Ease of mind for the sisters, so they can give the children love and encouragement--things all children need to grow up believing they are precious and irreplaceable

Your aid will not only provide immediate assistance to these children, but you will also secure their future by providing the safety and security they need to survive this current conflict, as well as grow up to be strong people who can work for a better future for themselves and their country. Your money will keep them from the desperation militias can so easily exploit.

Here's what you can give:

  • $14 feeds one child for one month
  • $84 feeds one child for six months
  • $500 feeds all 36 children and sisters for one month

When the evil we're trying to combat is as big as a civil war, it can feel like the odds against us being able to make a difference are too big. But in this case, any amount you can give will make a big difference!

Read more about the orphans' harrowing escape below.  

We are deeply grateful to Sr. Beatrice and the other sisters, who had the wherewithal to stop and take photos for us while they were running for their lives. Where noted, the photos included in this page are from that journey. Other images were taken at Ndekesha Orphanage before violence forced them to flee. 

"Civil war has devastated us"

Civil war has raged in DR Congo for nearly twenty years. It reached Ndekesha a few weeks ago, forcing the children and sisters to flee. Sr. Beatrice wrote to tell us details of their escape:

"The civil war in Congo-Kinshasa [...] has devastated us," Sr. Beatrice wrote. "We were forced to leave our home to protect our lives. We walked for 120 km (nearly 75 miles!) with 17 sisters and 19 orphans [...]. It took three days for some, 10 days for others." She continued, "Dear Deacon Rick and dear donors, I wonder if we should have stayed in Ndekesha and risked death because now life in Kananga is impossible. Orphans do not have enough to eat and diseases are adding to the hardship. I witness them losing weight day after day. I beg you to help us. [...] the current situation does not seem to end anytime soon. We have no income and only rely on your help. [...] Please help us. Thank you for everything you're doing especially for your prayers and financial support. Your prayers are essential." 

Caption  Sisters & Children  Children crammed 

Thankfully, all the children and sisters arrived safely in Kananga! But they still have a long way to go. They need food, medicine, and a bigger place to live. 

Here's how you can help:

  • $14 feeds one child or sister for one month
  • $84 feeds one child or sister for six months
  • $500 feeds all 36 children and sisters for one month  

ComeNight Flight for Safety

The details of their journey are harrowing. When the fighting came close to the orphanage, the sisters and children hid in the bush for days. Finally they knew they had to run, and began the journey to Kananga, DRC.

They walked 75 miles for their safety, through thick jungle, amidst fighting, and with little food. Many of them were barefoot and ill

They were detained by militia, and held for four hours.

They hid in villages along the way until it was safe to continue.

They even traveled in separate groups in order to not be such an obvious target to anyone who may want to harm them.       

It took three days for some of the children and sisters to make it to safety. But for the younger ones, and the sisters who had to carry them, it took 10 full days! 

We thank God that they all arrived in Kananga safely, and that they are out of immediate danger. They are still in desperate need. Although Sr. Beatrice secured lodging for them, it is unsustainable for the long term. 36 women and children are sleeping in a one-room apartment. There is no bedding, and the children must sleep on the dirt floor. They don't have enough food, and the journey left many of them gravely ill. They need money for food, medicine, and rent to secure a bigger apartment.

Sr. Beatrice is hoping to find a three-room apartment soon. If they are forced to stay in Kananga on a long-term basis--and Sr. Beatrice fears they will be displaced for at least six months, if not longer--they will need even more room. Sr. Beatrice and the other sisters are fighting, one day at a time, to survive. They have asked directly for your help. Any amount you can give will mean so much to them in this struggle for survival.Ide

Help is on the way!

Only with your help can Catholic World Mission fulfill our promise to provide food and shelter for the Ndekesha orphans through the end of the year. Some money has already been sent to the sisters, but they desperately need more help. We know that you are the key--you are the difference between life and death for these children.

Here's how you can make an impact:

  • $14 will feed one child or sister for a whole month!
  • $84 feeds one child or sister for six months
  • $500 feeds all 36 sisters and children for a whole month

Sr. Beatrice fears they will be displaced for at least six months, if not longer. You will make it possible for the Sisters of the Friends of Christ to meet the children's most basic needs until they can go home. Please give today.

Give now button

Read the full campaign here.

 

*To learn more about the conflict in DR Congo read these and other articles:

  1. "Why Joseph Kabila's ambition endangers Congo"
  2. "Violence in Southern Congo Leaves More Than 3,000 Dead"
  3. "Pope Francis calls for peace in DRC after condemning 'bloody clashes' in Kasai"