- Gifts of food and other necessities aid survivors of May 22 Mount Nyiragongo disaster.
- People share whatever they can, and aid has come from as far away as Princeton, New Jersey.
- Bishop Gabriel Yemba Umba expressed thanks and urged respect of barrier measures to prevent COVID-19 pandemic from worsening.
More than two months after active volcano Mount Nyiragongo erupted — claiming lives and destroying 1,000 homes — families, and especially children, remain vulnerable.
United Methodists are caring for more than 40 children, some orphaned by the eruption. They are providing clothing, food and medicine, according to Goma District superintendent the Rev. Henry Jean Robert Kasongo Numbize.
After Congo Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda asked United Methodists to mobilize to help survivors, several answered his call.
Dr. Daniel Shungu, a United Methodist living in the United States, is executive secretary of United Front Against Riverblindness. He donated $500 U.S. to purchase food for orphans from Goma who were traveling to Sake, 15 miles away. “As a faithful Methodist,” Shungu said, “I had seen in pictures of how these orphans were suffering, so I saw fit to send a little means I had.”
Help also came from Princeton United Methodist Church in New Jersey. The congregation sent part of the proceeds from an annual fundraising event. That gift of $2,000 purchased food and other necessities for children living at United Methodist Goma Orphanage.
Umba Guy, a lay leader in the Samaria Church in Goma, donated 10 bags of rice totaling 55 pounds. Orphanage director Adolphine Okako Olela expressed gratitude for his generosity.
“Most of the children recovered lost their parents while they were fleeing the lava of the volcano,” she said, “and today they are abandoned.” She lives with 10 of the children at the orphanage.
“I’ll continue to take care of these orphaned children, despite the current costs of living,” Olela added. She urged individuals and the church to continue to take care of the children.
During the ninth session of the Kivu Annual Conference in Goma, Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda visited the sites where lava destroyed homes, fields and other property. Remembering a mother and her child who died in the disaster, he offered an emotional prayer for all who lost loved ones.
Numbize noted that the woman and her child had begun to attend Majengo United Methodist Church, which sustained damage from the volcano.
A $10,000 grant from United Methodist Global Health provided bed nets, medicine and medical supplies, personal protective equipment and hygiene kits, and chlorine. A $100,000 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief furnished a one-month supply of food, non-food and hygiene items for 920 of the most vulnerable households, or 4,600 individuals.
“With this help,” said Dr. Damas Lushima, “the victims will begin to receive free medical care at the United Methodist health center in Majengo.” Lushima is health coordinator for the church in East Congo.
Expressing thanks, Unda took the opportunity to remind people of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. “I invite the entire population to strictly respect barrier measures to fight against this third wave of COVID-19, which continues to ravage us,” he said.
Philippe Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference.
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