Open Doors team members have met a 73-year-old grandmother who has been forced to live in a classroom in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as thousands are forced to flee their homes by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamic militant group.
Marie had lived in Kamango, a town in North Kivu Province near the Ugandan border, all her life, until suspected ADF militants attacked her community last year. Marie said, "We were in the house when we heard noises outside. My husband asked me to go and find out what was happening. I left through the back door and they got in through the front. They killed him and the three others who were inside the house with us."
Marie and her family fled to Eringeti, about 100km northwest of her home. However, another ADF attack forced them to flee again, to Oicha, 25km to the south. Marie and her children are staying in a school; three schools in the area are hosting almost a thousand displaced families like Marie's.
Marie said, "When we get up in the morning, we sweep the classroom and put all our belongings outside. We wait outside until school closes for the day. Then we can put our belongings back inside, and start cooking whatever food we have for the day... We can't afford to have smoke blind the students' eyes now, can we?"
In the morning, each of Marie's children goes to the city in the hope of finding odd jobs. Marie herself cannot do much physical work due to her age, but their desperate situation forces her to do what she can. "I usually accompany some farm owners, sometimes carrying water for them and doing other odd jobs. At the end of the day they give me some oil."
Marie receives a miniscule quantity of oil, sometimes half a litre; she sells it to buy food for her family.
The Open Doors team was able to provide Marie with food aid. She said, "Thank you! It will help me and my family very much. What we have just received, it is God who has given it. I thank God for this gift, and may God bless you. Please do not relent in intervening, even for others."
Photo of Marie – larger file sizes available on request:
The ADF has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more in the mostly Christian province of North Kivu. On a recent trip by Open Doors to deliver food, each family received 12.5kg of rice, 15kg of beans, 10 sachets of salt, 5.5 litres of oil and five bars of soap, including Marie's family.
Photo of displaced people waiting to receive food aid:
Another who received food aid was Rosa; she also fled her home with her husband and their six children last year, and they have also been living in the school in Oicha. As soon as Rosa received her portion of food, she started stewing beans for the evening meal. "Thank you, thank you for all what you have done. We have just received rice, soap, beans, oil and salt. We plead that you support us in prayer for the war to end in DRC so that we can leave this school and go back home; so that we can work and take care of ourselves."
Photo of Rosa and three of her children:
Dimanche is a 12-year-old boy who fled his home with his four siblings and other family members when their community was attacked by the ADF. A few days before the attack, his parents disappeared. He said, "Mama and Papa went to the farm to harvest vegetables. In the evening, they didn't come back. The next day, we went to search for them, but in vain. We informed the army who also went and searched. Until today we don't know what happened."
He is being looked after by his aunt in Oicha, who received food aid from Open Doors. Dimanche said, "Thank you for the food my aunt received today. Pray for me to have food always, and clothes to wear."
Dimanche and his aunt:
In another part of DRC, Pastor Paul cares for around 100 displaced families. Three years ago he was displaced with his family of seven. He said, "For many here, even a place to sleep is a problem. When it rains, we stand up because the hut leaks. I am glad today, because we live here by faith. I thank the brothers who sent this food. It will help us to eat to our fill. It is not every day that we find what we need to eat. We sincerely thank you! The soap will help for washing our clothes and with other household chores."
Photo of Pastor Paul:
DRC is not on the 2017 World Watch List, and 95.2% of the population are Christians. However, the ADF is active in the east of the country and specifically in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces. In these two provinces, several villages and churches were attacked and almost abandoned last year. Since October 2014, the crimes of the ADF have included kidnappings, massacres, attacks on military positions, looting, rape, recruiting children into the army, abductions, and displacing families, communities and churches.
Open Doors works in DRC to provide emergency relief to church leaders and other Christians, economic empowerment, cross cultural ministry training and persecution preparedness training.