United Methodist aid reaches East Congo

United Methodist aid has reached the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of East Congo, which was the site of a brutal attack by rebel Allied Democratic Forces, a group linked to Islamists in Uganda, on Aug. 13.

On Oct. 4, United Methodist district superintendent the Rev. Ezechiel Mathe Paluku and a volunteer group of women from The United Methodist Church in Beni brought food and supplies to 100 families identified as top priority for relief. Of those 100 families, 87 lost their homes in the attack. Funds for the supplies came from the United Methodist Committee on Relief as well as the Eastern Congo Conference and The United Methodist Church of Switzerland.

In a ceremony to give the supplies, Paluku read from Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

The United Methodist Committee on Relief provided funds for food and other household necessities such as pots and pans, water containers and clothing. Each family received rice, cassava flour, corn, 10 liters of oil, 25kg of beans and 1.5kg of iodized salt.

The East Congo United Methodist Church and The United Methodist Church of Switzerland also provided health care for 100 survivors.

“I am now a widower, unemployed … with seven infants,” said Kambale Kasavuli, whose wife was killed while she was working in the fields.

“I thank The (United) Methodist Church for this gesture and may God bless the pastors and members of The (United) Methodist Church who thought especially of me.”

Masika Sifa, another resident of Beni, lost her husband and two children.

“I remain a widow with five children. I do not know where to start to feed them.” She said her children have not returned to school because they lost everything in the attack.

“I lack words to express my thanks to the gift of The United Methodist Church. Do not tire of praying for us,” she said.

The mayor of Beni’s office also thanked the church and said the assistance is important and the first to arrive.

Thérèse Omba Ndjovu, coordinator of the United Methodist board of health in East Congo, said the assistance will continue until Nov. 15. The program will focus on monitoring rights violations and risk-prevention measures within Beni, particularly for women.

Dr. Richard Letshu, a United Methodist doctor and initiator of the project, proposed development of a database on all humanitarian and human-rights issues to keep Bishop Gabriel Unda informed so he can advocate for improving safety conditions.

A gift to UMCOR International Disaster Response Advance #982450 will help UMCOR respond to international emergencies.

Yanga is director of communications for the United Methodist East Congo episcopal area. Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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