Posts Tagged ‘Congo’

Immunization, Cucumbers and Civil Society

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

by Brenda Hegarty

I was digging worms out my cucumber (the African equivalent of ‘organic’ labelling) when my neighbor trundled into my compound with her belly as swollen as a gestating giraffe’s.

“Foreign girl,” she said (a term of endearment…I’m told). “I’m dying. You’ve got to help me.” She sat down on my compost heap and started moaning. “The doctor says I have malaria and typhoid. My head hurts. I’m exhausted. And I can’t move myself in any sense of the word.”

I was surprised. I told her she was the first person I had ever met who had typhoid.

She stared at me. “What are you talking about, you strange creature? Everyone gets typhoid.”


Congo Crisis: CRS to Respond with Food and Emergency Items

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Goma, Democratic Repbulic of Congo. We pray for an end to the violence and for a clear path to peace even as we strive to serve those in greatest need during the current crisis.

Committing a minimum of $250,000 in private funding, CRS is preparing to distribute emergency food and other essential items to thousands of people in Goma, a major city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where an intensified rebel movement has caused massive displacement and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

We invite you to go here to help with our response to emergencies like this.

UN agencies estimate that as many as 140,000 people have fled their homes and existing camps in the area as a result of fighting between the rebel group known as M23 and the Congolese army. While relative calm has now returned to Goma, the situation remains fragile as rebels continue to expand their presence in the area. Tens of thousands of people in Goma and its surroundings are without access to electricity and remain in critical need of food, water and safe shelter.

Keep Shining a Light on the Democratic Republic of Congo

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

RSVP Now for the Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast about the Congo.

In the eastern part of Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II has been ongoing for the last 15 years. Since 1998 it has claimed more than 3 million lives, displaced over 2 million people, and hundreds of thousands of women have been brutalized as an array of armed groups vie for control of territory and access to DRC’s vast mineral resources using rape as a weapon of war. Violence has surged in the last several months with a renewed rebellion in North Kivu province causing over 250,000 persons to flee their homes.

But in a country where 55 percent of the population is Catholic, the Church, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, is taking action to stem the violence, assist survivors, and help Congo’s people realize their aspirations for authentic human development. And Catholics in the United States are working in solidarity to promote sustainable and just development in the DRC and to stop the international demand for illegally obtained minerals that help fuel the violence.

Join us for:

An opportunity to hear about the Church’s ongoing work to support our brothers and sisters in the DRC, ask questions and engage in dialogue about the future of this country.

A review of the Securities and Exchange Commissions’ regulations on conflict minerals, and policy recommendations by CRS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based on Catholic social teaching and our experience, as to how U.S. policy can make a difference for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ideas on how Catholics in the United States, through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, can make a difference for our brothers and sisters in the DRC.

For more information:

Read the backgrounder on the DRC by the Office of International Justice and Peace at the USCCB.

Learn more about CRS’ work in the DRC and our advocacy efforts.

Learn about the Catholics Confront Global Poverty Initiative and how you can join.


October 25, 2012

12:00-1:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

RSVP now

Webcast Event – Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Please join the next Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast: Shining a Light on the Crisis in the Congo on Tuesday, July 27 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
RSVP for this webcast as space is limited.

Much of the instability, displacement, conflict, and sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is financed by armed groups’ control over lucrative mines and mineral trade routes. This Catholics Confront Global Poverty webcast will explore how the extraction of natural resources in eastern DRC is related to the horrific violence against women there.

Natural Resources and our Catholic Response

Friday, July 16th, 2010

This is a letter sent to the advocacy team at Catholic Relief Services from Catholics Confront Global Poverty.

Dear Tina,

The Senate yesterday afternoon passed the financial reform bill that includes several critical provisions that Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Catholic community in the United States along with many others have been advocating for over many months. While neither CRS nor USCCB have taken a position on the overall financial reform bill, the inclusion of provisions dealing with natural resources extraction in the developing world greatly advances our objectives to address global poverty and conflict. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

Eastern Congo: A Visit with Former Child Soldiers

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Lane Hartill, CRS’ regional information officer in West and Central Africa, sent this dispatch from the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

At first, Jean Pierre didn’t want to meet me. He thought I was going to make him go back to the military. And he’d had enough of that.

A rebel group in eastern Congo captured Jean Pierre when he was 15 years old. For three months, he slept in the forest, waiting out the fighting that tore through his once-tranquil village. When word spread that it was safe to return to the village, Jean Pierre ventured back. But he’d gotten bad info. The rebels were waiting.

Congo Video: Development – The New Name of Peace

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Congo Update

Friday, December 12th, 2008

CRS has two international staff and three national staff in Goma, and they are all fine; Goma city remains relatively calm.

There have been no breakthroughs in the U.N.-brokered peace talks between the Congolese government and rebel forces that opened Monday in Nairobi, Kenya.

Skirmishes and troop movements and population displacement continues in Rutshuru territory north of Goma; Masisi territory west of Goma remains relatively calm.

The CRS/Caritas team completed the non-food item kit registration in Ngungu (southern Masisi territory). The kits are expected to arrive in Goma this Sunday and distribution may begin by late next week.

Dispatch From Congo: Treating the Atrocity of Rape, Part 3

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Lane Hartill, CRS’ regional information officer for West Africa, recently visited eastern Congo, where he documented CRS’ response to the sexual violence that is an atrocity of the ongoing war.

The gynecologists at Panzi Hospital, a CRS partner, are some of the best in Congo at repairing reproductive systems that have been destroyed. But I wanted to find out how you fix a woman’s mind, how you heal her spirit.

So I turned to Cécile Mulolo Kamwanya, a psychologist at Panzi Hospital. She’s the head of the psychologist unit. It’s her and her team’s job to help heal women’s psyches, which are sometimes as damaged as their reproductive system.

Cécile told me a story that haunted me for days.

About a year ago, a little girl – I’ll call her Sylvie – was at home in Katama, a community very close to a forest where Hutu rebels, the same ones that committed the atrocities in Rwanda in 1994, are hiding.

The story unfurled like the others: the knock on the door; the demand for money; Sylvie’s father shot. In the confusion her mother fled. Sylvie was left in the house. The seven men took her to the forest, undressed her, and kicked her legs out from under her.

The last thing Sylvie remembered, Cécile said, before completely blacking out, was her legs being spread and men, as Sylvie put it, sleeping on her.

When she came to, she didn’t know what had happened or where she was. She tried to stand up but couldn’t. When she finally made it, she realized she was incontinent. She wandered for two days before an old man found her and led her by the hand back to her village.

She eventually made it to Panzi. But she was physically too small – only 10 years old – to be operated on. So for the next three or four years, she waits, no longer able to control the urine that seeps out of her.

“With a little girl like that, the first thing you must do is show affection,” says Cécile. “You must approach them even if they smell bad. If she came to your office, you’d open all the windows. The urine flows out of her. She smells very bad.

But Cécile loves her. They chat. Cécile puts her arm around Sylvie, as if she was her daughter. The whole time, Cécile is pretending she doesn’t smell anything. Cécile says a recent conversation went like this:

“I tell her to be patient, they’re going to take care of you, but you’re still too little. I ask her what she wants to do with her life.

‘I can’t get married. I’m going to be a nun.’

Why do you want to be a nun? Why don’t you want to marry?

‘Who’s going to want me? What man is going to love me?’

Be patient. And when they take care of you, you’ll be healed. You can then marry.

‘But I’m no longer a virgin. I’ve lost my virginity. Can someone who has lost her virginity, can a man love them?’

The value of a woman isn’t based on her virginity,” Cécile tells her.

Sylvie developed hatred toward men, says Cécile. But slowly she convinced her that all men aren’t bad.

“Only the ones that did this to you,” she says. “You’re papa was a good man. He loved your mama, didn’t he? He loved you. Was your papa bad?

No, Sylvie, said. Her papa wasn’t bad.

Dispatch From Congo: Treating the Atrocity of Rape, Part 2

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Lane Hartill, CRS’ regional information officer for West Africa, recently visited eastern Congo, where he documented CRS’ response to the sexual violence that is an atrocity of the ongoing war.

The stories of rape in eastern Congo are remarkably similar in their horror. Most of them start out the same way: A knock on the door. The armed men enter. The husband is beaten or killed. Then comes the gang rape.

But when you are actually sitting in front of a woman and she’s looking you in the eye, telling you in a monotone voice how they raped her, and you can see when she looks away, when her body language shifts, you know it’s hurting her again.

That’s when the rapes in Congo hit you.

It was like that when I talked with Birava. She recently moved into a new shack because she was taunted so badly in her previous neighborhood because she’d been raped. Her new place costs, $5 a month. But as a single mother with five children to feed, she has a hard time making rent.

We sat on vegetable oil tins and jerry cans in the front room, the one with the mud floor. She sat on a discarded engine block. She’d carefully folded some cloth for cushions. She told me her story. About the 12 soldiers who’d raped her. About the 6 miles she gingerly walked to Panzi with a prolapsed uterus. About the HIV she contracted from her now-deceased husband. And about her husband’s family who showed up recently wanting to take her kids away from her.

Birava didn’t hesitate to tell her story. I can’t imagine anyone going through something like this, then pouring her heart out to a complete stranger. Maybe it’s cathartic, I thought. Maybe she needs this.

A big part of her recovery is owed to Mama Jeanette, a counselor who volunteers for CRS’ partner, Foundation Femme Plus. She has turned into an older sister for Birava.
“She doesn’t do anything without telling me,” Jeanette says. Jeanette told me when the two are alone, Birava even has a sense of humor.

“Even though I have HIV,” she’ll sing, “I’m still living.”