by Izzy Henderson
A personal journey from catching Covid-19 to founding a charity; PEARL International.
Pearls in the Pandemic
A big thank you to all of you who have been in touch to encourage me and ask after my recovery and also to ask about the story of Pearl International. For us all, the last 12 months have brought both change and challenge; for me so much has been health-related after displaying symptoms of Coronavirus last March, which I presumed would pass within a fortnight. A year later I am still living with the symptoms and effects of long-Covid, having been off work for 12 months, and with no certainty of when or how this particular journey finishes.
There have been tough days but loads of blessings too so don’t feel too sorry for me! Time at home with Callum has been precious, the chance to catch up with family when restrictions have allowed, being able to walk again at the beach and lots of rest have brought new opportunities and perspectives. As I started to recover last May, I was able to pray and ask God what He was wanting to bring from this season. DRC, and in particular the huge growth in the number of schools Comfort Congo is overseeing, and the plight of so many children and young people commandeered as child soldiers is never far from my heart. The testimonies of the transformation of the Children of Liberty and the difference that schools are making to communities, bring hope for a different future for North Kivu and yet, the need vastly outstrips the funding we have in both these areas.
I was reading the parables of the hidden treasure and the Pearl in Matthew 13:44-46. Often, when I speak with young people, I tell them about the minerals and precious stones in DRC, and that they will have a piece of Congo in the mobile phone in their pocket. DRC has the largest untapped deposits of raw mineral ores in the world and the technology for mobile phones, laptops, electric cars, batteries and much more, depends on the likes of cobalt, cassiterite, coltan and its derivative tantalum. Mining is a core and dangerous source of work, both for the conditions of the mines and the conflict surrounding their control as people fight to possess this treasure. As I prayed, I clearly understood that the supreme treasure of DRC is these young people, these children; they are pearls hidden in the darkness.
A very simple thought emerged: what if every mobile phone that was sold, or every contract renewed, gave us the opportunity to give something back to the people of DRC? To support a generation of Congolese youth to experience Peace, Education, Access, Rescue and Liberty (spot the PEARL?). With 90% of adults owning a smartphone (Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2019), by simply donating£1, £3 or £5 when we buy or gift a mobile or renew a contract, we can provide a sustainable, hope-filled future for thousands of children and young people. So Pearl135 was born and, alongside that, we will help people in the UK to understand more about how we are connected with DRC and our social responsibility for our planet and those we share it with.
Pearl International is in its very early stages as I am not well enough to work at present; we have successfully registered with OSCR as a distinct charity for this one purpose and are in the process of developing a plan we can take to telecommunications companies, a website, publicity and educational resources for schools and churches. If you would like to receive updates on the progress of Pearl International, or are interested in helping in any other way, please email me at email@example.com. (NB you will not receive Pearl updates as a subscriber to Comfort International, unless requested, due to data protection.)
We have seen the impact of Comfort International grow so much through the kindness of supporters and volunteers and my prayer is that Pearl International will be a new way to grow our projects in DRC and see many more lives transformed. I would love you to partner with us so please get in touch and let me know your thoughts.
Love and blessings to you all,