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Thursday, June 5, 2008

‘Nothing’ becomes ‘something’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Many people who attended HOPE International Development Agency events last year will remember Mawa, a father featured in ‘Heart of Hope’, our film about families who are rebuilding their lives in post-war Democratic Republic of Congo.

When our volunteer film crew met Mawa in the small Congolese village of Bodigia-Moke, his family and extended family were in a frightening situation. Mawa, in his early twenties, provides for a wife, a mother, an older sister, four children under the age of five, and half a dozen village children and disabled people. (As is the case across Africa and much of the developing world, ‘family’ is a different kind of affair than here in the West).

Sadly, his family’s situation was typical of what so many families were experiencing. The war had forced them to flee their homes and hide in the jungle, lest they be tortured or killed. In 2007, following a peace agreement, they were starting over in a new village and had absolutely nothing. Not enough food to eat. Not enough money to even purchase modest farming tools needed for growing food.

Recently, one of our field workers visited Mawa’s village and told us that in the year since the filming, Mawa’s life has already changed in important ways. His family and hundreds of other families now have clean water to drink as a result of a HOPE International Development Agency spring capping project. Last October, Mawa also received a wheelbarrow, machete, shovels, and money to buy seeds. He immediately cleared a small patch of land and planted peanuts, which he harvested in January. His plan was to sell a portion of this 110kg harvest, use some to replant fields next season, and keep some as food.

Our colleague described the way Mawa stood next to two large bags of peanuts, leaning on the machete and smiling, as he told her about the “big change” in his life. Before, he had nothing, he said, and now he has something; granted, it is not much yet, but it is something.

Mawa also told her about his plans for the future: to start a fish pond in the next few months, to extend his peanut fields, to plant other crops, to buy a few goats, and to build a better house that he can leave as an inheritance for his children. This is the substance of self-reliance—the beginning of an end to chronic, intergenerational poverty. It’s as simple as a step up from nothing into something.

Just as Mawa’s former desperation was typical of families in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so too is his present-day industry and security. Opportunities for a self-sustaining lifestyle are starting to be the norm for the families we work with.

Many of you, through HOPE International Development Agency, have invested in these families, and you should know that they are making good upon your investment.

See Mawa’s story in our film, ‘Heart of Hope’.

Help Congolese families today by giving to HOPE International Development Agency.

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