Melinda Kerr

Melbourne, Australia

G’day all, my name is Melinda but my mates call me Mel, so feel free. I live by the beach in Elwood, Victoria, Australia. I...

What's happening with HEAL Africa in DR Congo RIGHT NOW

Hi all,
Lots of you have become interested in the charity I support through RB called HEAL Africa. I thought I’d copy the latest from their blog.
The first bit is written by one of the directors based in the states. The second bit is written by Lyn Lusi-one of the founders. She is the one speaking at the lunch I’ve written about previously. This is where Rebecca Zachariah and I were in April.

Where in the world is HEAL Africa staff?

We thank you for your support for the programs of HEAL Africa during this difficult time. Yes, the violence is worse than it’s been in many years around Goma and North Kivu. We wonder, when will it end?

Yet the staff has chosen to continue to work in spite of the hazards. They’ve asked for prayer. We just got this from Lyn Lusi, Program Manager in Goma. It tells the story. It highlights one of HEAL Africa’s distinctives. It is a local organisation in Congo, doing the work that needs doing in spite of the challenges. The staff has built credibility because they have been going into each of the militarily-controlled areas over the past years bringing medicine, training nurses and community leaders in preventing HIV, raising awareness about violence, bringing agricultural help, working with families with disabled children, grouping mothers into solidarity groups to save for their own maternity care; they’ve become known as bringers of good news.

So please continue to pray for their safety and wisdom as they continue their dangerous work to build a better future for Congo!
Thanks again,
Judy Anderson

Here’s the letter:

Dear friends,

While I was travelling away from Congo last week, I received a travel warning from the UN security forces, formally forbidding any travel outside Goma.

I passed it on to all the project staff.

I had an immediate response from Ndungo and Ciza, both of them reminding me that if they did not bring help to the civilian populations trapped behind the battle lines, no one else would go.

Today I heard from Ciza exacty what happened. All the staff were unanimous in their determination to continue bringing whatever help they could to the remote villages. Ciza called Patrick Lavand’homme (OCHA coordinator) and asked for special permission to go on with the work. Two hours later, Patrick called him back and gave permission, because we are not an international NGO.

3rd December, the ambulance loaded up and went out to Kibirizi, to bring desperately needed medical supplies to thier hospital. They went on through the park and up north, rescuing some runaway child soldiers on the way, and taking them to the nearest demobilisation camp. Their whole story is one of terrified displaced people running in every direction, hungry, cold and desperate. Different bands of militias and soldiers occupy villages without any central command. Ciza and the driver at one time had 20 women (pregnant, old, disabled) packed into the ambulance, to drive them to the next safe place. At every road block, they had to explain who they are and negotiate access and safe passage. I am amazed by their courage.

Today they came back to Goma to resupply. This time they are targetting the isolated population that has taken refuge behind Nkunda’s battle lines – almost exclusively Tutsi farmers from Masisi. To have access to these people, the team needs safe passage from General Mayala commanding the FARDC; Camille Ntoto knows this man, and is getting the permissions. It is very important to take the message to these refugees that they are Congolese like us, and we will do all we can to bring them help as well.

Please pray for Ciza, for Ndungo (Choisir la Vie) and Bolingo (Comites Nehemie), for Mama Neema (Safe Motherhood), for Adelard (Enfants Comme Nous) – all of them are using their project resources right now to bring help to the people stranded and in desperate need because of this fighting.

Pray for a speedy end to this fighting.

Thanks. Lyn Lusi

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