Friday, November 2, 2012

The News - Great and Grim

It seems like for every achievement we celebrate in Africa, we also have to face the grim realities in other areas. This morning is no different.  We get email updates from our family in Africa and when we do, it's always with a little twinge of anxiety that I open them, knowing that there is so much that can be revealed in just a few short sentences. As Ecclesiastes says, there is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. Sometimes they come within minutes of one another.

This past week, we received the following requests to pray for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and particularly a community that we have been working in where rebels once again have begun to terrorize  the people there. There is no rhyme nor reason to the violence and terror that is inflicted by these rebel groups, there is often not even any way to differentiate factions of rebels that continue to just make misery worse for no obvious gains on their part. So, in its simplicity, here is the prayer request that we received:

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Urgent prayer is needed as rebels have entered Luhongo  Village
 where Hands at Work has begun care for very vulnerable children.
Pray for grannies and children fleeing to the woods to be protected.
Pray that Care Givers will be able to find these children.
Pray that feeding schemes to be restarted as everything has been disrupted due to rebel activities.

...if you wonder what they leave behind when they are fleeing? Nothing. They have nothing. Minimal shelter. Shattered families. Unusable land.  And yet? They flee and it scatters what has already been scattered and any sense of rebuilding or hope or commonality is destroyed, not to mention that the trauma to and vulnerability of children and grannies, already at an unimaginable level, is amplified by these raids and attacks. And those that have stepped up to bring comfort and food and help? They too must flee and with them, the hope that Luhongo may have been beginning to grasp for. 

And yet, elsewhere on the continent, in a small rural village called Oshoek, along the South African side of the Swaziland border, a group of committed beautiful care workers have begun to feed 50 children this week! Every day. How I love these stories! These are the women and men that we spent time with back in March and had our hearts broken for their community. Oshoek is beautiful, rural and difficult. It is a very cold place, and so very poor. You may remember the story of my breakdown in Oshoek when a grandmother asked us for food to feed her 7 grandchildren, high in the hills of Oshoek. Or of the amazing artist who drew amazing renditions of football stadiums and made his own guitar from cardboard and found items. Or the story of the young boy who, at age 6, cared for his dying aunty and nursed her back to health while taking care of the house they were living in and cooking meals. Or the young brother and sister, who orphaned in early childhood, built themselves a home out of mud and sticks that they still live in today. This is Oshoek. The care workers there walk distances we wouldn't attempt in their daily visits to orphaned and vulnerable children in their hilly, rural community. And now, with the support of Hands at Work, they have begun to feed 50 children in this community. It's such a beautiful beginning and so desperately needed. I literally cried at the news, knowing what this means for so many in Oshoek, that can't provide for themselves or their children.

There is much work to be done and re-done. There are forces at work that would see this work end. And yet, there is still so much to celebrate. I'm thinking of this boy today. And I hope he has reason to sing again.

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