Caring for the Vulnerable Child Conference
The second day of the Vulnerable Child conference was a huge success! We are caring for 40 children and resourcing and training 75 caregivers! We had a mix of children from local churches and a large number of children from CEPIMA. The children had so much fun learning about their original design and feelings, and the caregivers are open to the material. We have excellent interpreters. Many of them have their own children’s ministries so they are great with the kids, and they are dedicated to continuing care with the children once the conference is over. Mama Abia has been attending the Vulnerable Child conference as well. We found out today that after she sits in the workshop all day, she takes the material back and uses it with the 50 traumatized children that are currently at CEPIMA. Even in the midst of adversity or when difficulties arise on these trips, it’s so hard to be discouraged because of people like Mama Abia who are so faithful to take and use the materials to continue teaching and training others.
One of the children who attended the conference today was a young girl named Farajah (which means courage). Faraja has been at CEPIMA for three months. When she came to CEPIMA, she had previously been at three other hospitals and wasn’t showing any improvement. When she arrived, she wasn’t walking, talking, eating, or sleeping. She came from a family of 10—all nine of her siblings have died. She is now eating, sleeping, and walking with a little bit of assistance, and she is starting to try to speak. When Farajah arrived today she was very shut down and expressionless. As Mama Nora started working with her, she began to open up. For one of the exercises, the children were given a mirror to practice making and looking at their facial expressions. Farajah loved the mirror! She stared at herself and smiled for the entire exercise; this was some of the first expression we had seen on her face all day; it was such a beautiful sight. Even though she has a long way to go in her healing, we are so excited for the progress that Farajah has already made and are looking forward to seeing her grow throughout the rest of the conference.
This week we also learned a story about the guesthouse where we are staying. Earlier in the week, during an exercise about things that bring us pain, a pastor shared that when he was 14 years old he was rounded up with 800 other boys and taken to be buried alive “right under that tree over there.” He pointed to a tree on the guesthouse property that could be seen from the conference room window. We were all astonished. Before sharing his story, we did not know the history of the OHAI guesthouse. During Mobutu’s reign of power (Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga was the military dictator and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997), this property was a military base where his personal guard lived along with many soldiers. Under that tree, 800 young men were buried alive. Many others had also been killed on these grounds in massacres. As a young man, the pastor was brought to the base. He showed the soldiers a New Testament he had in his pocket. They then told him to run and that they would shoot him instead of burying him. Three soldiers lined up and shot at him as he ran, but all of their bullets missed, and he was able to escape. One year after the killings, CBCA bought this property and changed its name from “death to life.” The properties previous name meant “rest” but was referred to as the place of death. The property is now called “ohai” which means life and is a place of safety and refuge for the people. The photo of the men standing under the tree was taken this afternoon during a process group. This place is such a perfect and beautiful representation of God’s redemptive power and plan for Congo. Only God has the power to transform such evil into such beauty. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve these people in this place. This so perfectly represents what Mending the Soul strives to do.