Recently, the area of Kasai in Congo has erupted because of the killing of 2 government leaders which triggered mass tribal violence and a surge of refugees to flee the region into Kyangwali, West Uganda. (https://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/conflict-and-displacement-kasai-january-2018). Tutapona is one of our valuable partners that are offering much needed trauma counselling to refugees. Candice Lassey recently went on a trip on Tutapona’s behalf, to assess the escalating crisis developing near the Kyangwali refugee settlement in Congo. She reported the following;
“If I could describe Kyangwali in one word, it would be ‘Heartbreaking’. I’ve read reports, watched documentaries and perused pictures online to try and grasp the immensity of the situation in DR Congo, but nothing compares to sitting face to face with a mama who has lost it all. Nothing measures up to sitting next to a man who had to physically fight for the lives of his children. Nothing affects you like the blank stares of children who have seen too much, heard too much and felt too much for their little hearts to bear. This is what my visit to Kyangwali was like. The settlement, which was home to previously settled Congolese refugees, was now a sea of white tents, temporary NGO offices and people. In fact, since our campaign, The Voiceless Millions, went out we’ve seen over 44,0000 refugees from Congo flood the border. We knew the situation in DRC was bad, but we never imagined the extent of it.
As I began to interview these new arrivals one common theme became apparent: “We thought we’d be ok, but then soldiers invaded our village and when I saw my neighbour was dead we grabbed the children and ran”. Not one person had time to pack anything. Many of them arrived at the lake shore with no money, no shoes, nothing, relying 100% on the kindness of boatmen to bring them to safety. Some people rowed for 3 days. Most people made the harrowing journey under the cover of night. Some people sat as their boats filled with water, praying they would make it to the other side. No one knew what would happen when they got there. But they had no choice – run, or die.
It became increasingly obvious that the level of trauma these souls had experienced was detrimentally high. Many people were unable to vocalise what they had seen on their escape. While some were relieved at their new found peace, all were anxious and worried about their future, worried about how they would build their lives again, how they would recover the lost livelihood and innocence. Their need for support in this region is strikingly obvious – and that is where MAF comes in, providing transport and assistance to NGO partners who are working in the field to provide psychosocial, medical and nutritional support.
There is a long road to recovery for so many of these people – it may take months, even years for them to feel like this is ‘home’, but together, we can help to bring hope, peace and love right where they are at.”
Please pray for the continued work of Tutapona and many of our other brave partners that are stoically providing emotional and physical help to these vulnerable refugees. Also please pray for peace to consume Congo and for the political unrest to settle.