The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing decades of bloody clashes that have brought the country down. Although the war ended in 2007, guerrilla warfare is commonplace in the Lake Kivu area, making it impossible to imagine a peaceful future for everyone. Over the past years, Covid has further exacerbated the situation of poverty and social hardship in the country.
The situation is serious: 7 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 do not attend school. In fact, 2 out of 3 children cannot afford education because they come from families in economic hardship. They are street children or mamimihogo (children who sell water on the streets) who are denied the right to education and the chance to create opportunities for themselves to get out of a life of extreme poverty.
In many cases the parents of these children have not been able to study because of the war and for this reason they have dark popular beliefs, including the belief in witchcraft.
The girls are blamed for their families' misfortunes and are abandoned on the street to their fate by those who should take care for them. They are the "witch children" of Bukavu.
The majority of accusations of witchcraft happens in poor families, often in families with children with disabilities.
The girls we welcome hatch a desire for revenge. Our mission is teaching them to forgive from the bottom of their hearts because only if they can forgive do they make peace with the past and open up to new life.
Slowly they can heal as we gently lend them a hand.
- We support them in their education so that once they are out of the center they can find a job.
- We create a family mediation path so that the little ones can be welcomed home again, where possible, with greater awareness on the part of the family of origin.
- We fight against school dropout of street children and we contribute to the improvement of families' living conditions.
- We support children with disabilities and their families by offering activities tailored to them so that they feel included in the community and develop their abilities.
HOW WE WORK
City of Bukavu, South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo
FOR WHOM AND WITH WHOM WE DO PROJECTS
Since 2001 we have taken in 420 girls: we take care of about 30 girls each year. We offer school support to 1,200 children a year.
Sister Natalina Isella is the "mother" of Ek'Abana: she laid the foundation stone of the Center and she is the heart and strength of the Girls' Home.
Partner: Associazione Amici di Silvana, Helpcode