Mothers and children at risk in Democratic Republic of Congo

Published 25 June 2013  |  
(Photo: Tearfund)
Tambwe his wife Elisha and their family

Tearfund says mothers and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in need of vital help.

Fighting has worsened in the last year and around 2.7 million people have been forced to leave their homes.

"Again and again we are seeing families uprooted in waves of tragic turmoil," said David Bainbridge, Tearfund's International Director.

"People continue to leave their homes, in fear of the sexual violence which is widespread in the eastern DRC where armed groups frequently use rape as a weapon."

The Christian relief and development agency is launching an appeal to support those displaced from their homes.

"Women and children have suffered unimaginable horror and yet they also show amazing strength, resilience and dignity. Now we must show them we have not forgotten them, and we need your help," Bainbridge continued.

The appeal is being supported by actor Tamsin Greig, who has visited Heal Africa's hospital in Goma, which is supported by Tearfund.

"I met with women who had suffered so much trauma and pain from appalling injuries – a result of rape used as a weapon in the conflict," she said.

"I know that, despite healing being both a very slow and painful process, there is hope and lives are transformed.

"Tearfund really does need your help as they work to provide vital support to families displaced from their homes."

People who have already benefited from the help of Tearfund include 41-year-old Tambwe and his wife Elisha, who were forced to flee their home with their eight children after an attack on their village, Kalundu, by an armed group.

They found shelter in a school building along with 280 other families but conditions were dire, with no clean water and little food. When two of their children became ill, Tambwe and Elisha were unable to afford the medication and the children died.

"We may look like God has forgotten us but we know that he hasn't," said Elisha.

Tambwe is among the villagers in Kalunda to be trained by Tearfund in fish farming and agriculture.

"I did some fish farming before we fled but to be honest I did not know what I was doing and our harvests were low," he said.

Whereas before, he had to sell his entire fish harvest to make ends meet, he can now look forward to saving some for his family to eat.

"Tearfund has trained me not only in how to farm fish correctly but how fish can be eaten as part of a diverse diet," he said.

Tearfund has provided baby fish to re-establish sustainable fish farming in Kalundu. Eight families have been working to help each other rebuild their ponds.

"We worked together for about a month, after Tearfund had provided us with the correct tools," Tambwe shared. "I have another five ponds which were destroyed during the war, but I hope in the future to rehabilitate them as well with the tools and knowledge I have been given."

Tambwe used to run a pharmacy but it was looted in the conflict. With the money he makes from his fish and crops, he is hoping to start up the business once again - something that will be lifechanging for his children.

"If I can restart my pharmacy then life will once again be stable", he said. "My children can have a future and go to school."

The DRC has been plagued by conflict since 1998. More than 5.4 million people have been killed and communities have been devastated.

Tearfund said fighting was only prolonging poverty in the country and hindering its development.

"The violence has flared up time and time again," said Bainbridge. "We can't let this conflict be forgotten. We need to be among the hurting Congolese people: resilient alongside their resilience; showing love, compassion and hope. Please help us make a difference to their lives, and bring Christ's healing into such appalling suffering."

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