As a result of the ever increasing intensity of the violence and conflict in the North Kivu area of the Democratic Republic of Congo, countless children are being made orphans on a daily basis. As well as the terror, upheaval and very real danger from the conflict that they face, there is an acute emergency situation in that these children are starving and malnourished, and indeed many are on the brink of death even as we write. 107 orphan children and 193 children suffering from malnutrition have gathered at what has been dubbed Sake Orphanage in the area of Masisi. They are sleeping on the floors of the Free Methodist Church in Sake, 20km west of Goma, as Comfort Congo works with the church to desperately try to provide emergency food as well as fit out a house where at least some of the children and families can stay.
The malnourished children who have gathered here have become so as a result of displacement. Hundreds of thousands of families are being forced to flee their homes due to the spilling over of fighting between rebel and government forces. They have fled with very little or nothing at all. There is no food relief available, and the families have no access to land, food or money. The orphans are also malnourished but are even more vulnerable – they have no-one with them. Emmanuel Bifuko is the monitor of this centre, helped by Moses Kusimwa, the nutritional agent of Central Hospital Rusayu, who is visiting 2 days a week to help to supervise the activities in Sake and provide nutritional advice. The team is helped by 4 women who help with cooking and distribution of food and porridge.
The Comfort International team who visited the “orphanage” during the Summer trips were shocked by the scale of the crisis and the immediate danger these children are in. The signs of severe acute malnutrition were evident – muscle wasting, extreme lethargy and weakness, kwashiorkor etc. Some children were too weak to sit up, some too weak to even hold a cup of porridge. What lies beneath that is bone deformity, organ atrophy, stunting and reduced brain size. Some of those issues like brain development are irreversible after the child reaches 3-4 years old. The children are on a pathway to internal atrophy of organs, brain loss and death. Every week that goes by moves the child along that pathway if they don’t receive help. Four orphans in need of emergency health care were transferred to the Central Hospital Rusayu to receive treatment and care until their condition improves.
Comfort Congo is working with the Free Methodist Church to help in whatever way they can, but resources are completely insufficient in comparison to the desperate need. The church is taking up a monthly offering but of course their income is severely limited. On the 11th of August, Dieudonne, Bedadi and Joseph from Comfort Congo joined with the team in Sake to distribute food – rice, beans and protein porridge made with sorghum, soya, maize flour and wheat to help these children fight against hunger and malnutrition
Comfort International is extremely keen to partner with churches in the United Kingdom to help alleviate the situation at Sake. If you think your church or organisation can help, please get in touch with us at [email protected]