Thanks to The United Methodist Church’s focus on improving health globally and its specific outreach in Congo, malnourished children are being fed every day.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 6 million children under age 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. Although the region is blessed by vast natural resources, nearly three decades of conflict and instability continue to leave their mark on families who struggle to survive.
Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda of the Eastern Congo Episcopal Area is especially concerned about hundreds of children from Bukavu, Kisangani and Tunda, who face chronic malnutrition and are frequently brought to the United Methodist-related Irambo Hospital in Bukavu.
The church has three sites where poorly nourished children receive food. At each location, a team of a nutritionist and two mothers cook the meals.
Dr. Marie Claire Manafundu oversees the Maternal and Child Health Program in the episcopal area. “It is a great satisfaction,” she said, “for us to be supported by United Methodist Global Health in this area, and it is a great action that the church has just realized in … feeding these malnourished children.”
Both the community and health authorities have expressed appreciation to The United Methodist Church.
The church is addressing “a major problem in the community,” said Dr. Cubaka Muharanganyi, who oversees the Ibanda Health Zone. He believes the initiative offers “a great model for other communities to follow.”
He said it illustrates an effective partnership between the church and the Congo government.
“We will continue to accompany The United Methodist Church in the training of its staff to take care of these poorly nourished,” Muharanganyi said.
Parent Bisimwa Alain is thankful for The United Methodist Church, “for giving my two children food, and today they begin recovering their health.”
Her children are fed at Irambo Hospital, where nutritionist Mubalama Ngwasi Eric prepares meals rich in soy, cornmeal, peanuts, palm oil and sugar.
“We continue to record new (malnutrition) cases every day,” he said, “and we are sometimes overwhelmed.”
Dr. Damas Lushima, general coordinator of health for the episcopal area, would love to see three separate nutritional centers in Irambo, Kisangani and Tunda. Currently, he said, United Methodists are doing outpatient care of the malnourished children at the three hospitals.
Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference.