Congolese Steeler Fans

27 Feb

A little Congolese beauty

Congolese Steeler Fans

David’s First Blog from East Africa

Dear Friends,

I’m tagging along in East Africa with three of Heaven’s Family’s finest: my wife, Becky, who directs our Refugee Ministry, Diane Scott, who directs our Safe Water Ministry and Food Ministry, and Mel Miller, who has recently joined our staff after retiring as a career pilot for American Airlines. Mel is being trained to take over directorship of the Refugee Ministry as it has exceeded Becky’s time capacity.

Our first stop on this two-week trip is the city of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that currently is near the very bottom of the UN Human Development Index, number 176 out of 188 countries. (Gross national income per capita is $680, compared to $52,947 for the U.S.)

Goma sits at the epicenter of decades of regional wars that have taken the lives of 5.4 million people and created an ongoing refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled from conflict to this this city of sprawling slums. Heaven’s Family is working here in various ways through at least 6 of our 21 Focused Ministries. One group we’re serving consists of displaced single women and their children. We’ve partnered with pastor Simeon Muhunga, whom I first met at a 2004 DR Congo pastors’ conference at which I spoke.

We’ve striven to serve via sustainable solutions, for example, by funding important needs at two women’s centers that focus on biblical trauma counseling (many of the women who benefit from the two centers have suffered rape, regionally used as a weapon of war), nutrition programs for mothers and their children, vocational training, and Christian discipleship. Over the last decade, we’ve made a lot of progress thanks to the compassion of Heaven’s Family’s investors. Below are some photos of a few of the beneficiaries with captions. Next stop, Rwanda.

David Servant
Founder and President, Heaven’s Family

One of the skills being taught is heavy-duty handbag weaving, and here are some weavers with samples of their work. One handbag requires 7 hours of labor, and the women try to sell them locally for about $4. Becky, as in past trips, will be bringing back to the U.S. four large suitcases full of their handbags, and we sell them for $25 and give the weavers our full purchase price. In Pittsburgh where we live, the black and gold ones sell quickly to Pittsburgh Steeler fans.

Another skill being taught is soap making, which has become another profitable business that helps the women feed their children.

Many women are learning to sew in rooms full of treadle sewing machines that we’ve provided, which not only results in clothing being made that is sold for a profit, but also provides impoverished women with a marketable skill.

A new initiative at one of the women’s centers is a primary school for the children of women who are benefitting from the center’s programs. Our Food Ministry provides daily milk, a very special treat for very poor children.

Milk is also provided by our Food Ministry for toddlers of mothers who come each day to the women’s centers.

The women’s centers of course need water, and Diane Scott, through our Safe Water Ministry, has provided a rainwater collection system with reservoirs like this one.

Kids are kids the world over! A few more pics of precious local kids below…

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