Psalm 133 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Well that was exactly how it felt when we had the joy and privilege of gathering together on the 16th of September for our annual Supporters’ Day – a day for us to celebrate together. It’s a day for us to remember all the wonderful things God has done for us and to give him thanks; to recognise the continued dedication and sacrifice of our wonderful supporters and to remind ourselves of the mammoth task set before us as we seek to bring God’s love and light to the poorest and darkest places on the planet. It’s a day to join with our brothers and sisters – our partners from across Africa and hear from their own mouths the incredible things that are happening, as well as the challenges they face on a daily basis. And it’s also a day to fellowship together – to eat and share anecdotes of trips and memories of the mission God has been calling us to for nearly 25 years.
We began our time together being led in a time of worship by Neill and Fiona, singing of God’s goodness and faithfulness. We then broke off into an ice-breaker, where people were given a country name or a flag and had to find their match and get chatting! It was great to see so many new faces and this was an opportunity to get to know people who were coming to Supporters’ Day for the first time.
For the remainder of the day, we were taken on a virtual Comfort International trip, visiting all the different countries, finding out what has been developing there and what the greatest needs are. It was wonderful to see a highlights video of the trips from this Summer which have clearly been so impactful on many people. We wanted to take this opportunity to give a taste of what’s happening on the ground to those who haven’t been able to visit.
We started off our journey in Rwanda, where we heard about the building work for the Comfort Transformation Centre (CTC) which is now well underway. We heard about how many of the children on the Street Kids’ Rescue Projects struggle with the continued pull of drug and alcohol abuse which took hold as it numbed the pain of their lives on the streets, and how the CTC will provide a safe place for them to recover and be free from the life they once knew. The teams over the Summer were delighted to get involved with the building work, and it was wonderful to see the Ex-Street Children themselves putting their skills to good use and helping build the CTC.
We also heard from Becca Hoyle who gave a fascinating update on Comfort Babies following their trip in the Spring, as they continue to do fantastic work providing sponsorship for vulnerable mums and babies to allow them to support themselves as they move into self-sufficiency. Then it was a delight to hear from David Gasana and the Comfort Rwanda team, as well as many ex-street children and mums and babies who had gathered to greet us all. They treated us to a Kinyarwandan rendition of Awesome God.
Following this, Ailidh gave a presentation on the impact of the Feeding Projects, which was launched at supporters’ day last year, and how that is supporting children of school and nursery age suffering from malnutrition. Ben and Clement from Good News International discussed this as well as focussing on the impact of the tragic floods in Rwanda earlier this year which Comfort has been raising funds for through their Summer appeal.
We then travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Fiona took us through her very emotional journey of what she had seen there this year. The situation in DRC is dire, with Internally Displaced People camps spreading like wildfire, intensified fighting and vast numbers of orphans desperately in need of food and care. The Central Hospital Rusayu continues to treat the needy in the most difficult of circumstances, to the point where they regularly run out of beds and resources. In the midst of it all, our partners at Comfort Congo continue to fight to provide education, nutrition, health care, accommodation and support for those who need it most in these horrendous conditions. We heard of some of the emergency needs, which you can find here.
Dieudonne, Joseph and Bedadi from Comfort Congo were also able to join us and share some of the challenges they are facing, while still praising God for the amazing work being done in the midst of such danger and hardship.
The situation in DRC is very moving, and we spent some time praying together over some of the things we had heard. Indeed, the challenges seem insurmountable but we believe God is the answer to every affliction in this world. Prayer is fundamental to everything we do. The needs are indeed great but our God is greater, and where we can do little, He can do much.
We then also heard updates from our partners in Burundi and South Sudan, where the work continues to grow. The project that has begun with the Batwa in Burundi this year is very encouraging, but the need is tremendous and very urgent, as people live in “homes” which are not even big enough to lie down in. The situation in South Sudan continues to be extremely difficult as people suffer from intense hunger and violence in what is one of, if not the world’s poorest country. Again, we were blown away by the faith, resilience, joy and ability of our partners as they make daily sacrifices to continue the work on the ground.
The morning ended and after much laughing, crying, singing, praying, hearing, learning and yearning in our hearts, we had lunch together and spent time catching up on the last twelve months. People were able to browse the beautiful crafts that were on sale from Rwanda, as well as Callum’s two books and the Comfort International merchandise. It truly was a wonderful day and to say we are grateful to our amazing supporters and volunteers is an understatement. You truly are the lifeblood of this charity and we would never be able to put on Supporters’ Day without you. Murakoze cyane from the bottom of our hearts! Can’t wait to see you all again next year.