Thursday, November 3, 2011

Condition in the Congo

If any of you subscribe to National Geographic, you may have seen the most recent edition in which there is an article on the Albertine Rift in eastern DR Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Rwanda.  This is the area in the DRC where the civil war has had the greatest impact.  The fighting between the Hutu and Tutsi in the 90's during the Rwandan genocide spilled over into the DRC simply because of the small size of Rwanda.  This led to the destruction and mass pillage of the small villages in eastern Congo.  To this day, fighting persists in this mineral rich area.  The warlords (who have the money) force their fellow Congolese citizens into slavery in the mineral mines and they capture, drug, and brainwash young boys (12-14 yrs old) into forced militia service.  They learn to kill and they learn to love to kill.

The National Geographic article doesn't intend to portray the demise of this ravaged area.  The article is about the abundant mineral resources of this area.  However, because of the fighting, these rich mineral resources are often squandered by the government, so this naturally leads to the inclusion of warfare into this article.  Warfare and corrupt government are the primary reason the Congo does not sustain itself economically.  Some have said that the Congo is the most mineral rich country in the world, but because of the political and civil unrest, they are unable (or unwilling) to benefit their nation as a whole; individual warlords take the booty for themselves as they enslave their own people.

As I read this article, I found some interesting "quotables" that I'd like to share.  I've also included some pictures from the National Geographic web article, which can be found here.

"Rule of the gun prevails in North Kivu, a conflict-ravaged province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Mai-Mai Kifuafua, one of many local militias, flaunts its power on a road where it extorts money from villagers and travelers.  For nearly 20 years near-constant fighting over land, mining riches, and power has terrorized the people." (caption, pg. 84-85, photo taken by Pascal Maitre)

"A metal-roofed metropolis, Goma sits at the crossroads of conflict in eastern Congo, its population exploding with displaced villagers, soldeirs, profiteers, and aid workers.  The lava-rumpled city sprawls between Lake Kivu, full of dangerous gases, and the restless Nyiragongo volcano."  
(caption, pg. 88-89, photo by Pascal Maitre)

"Crowded and impoverished after decades of war and instability, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC rate near the bottom of every index of human development, which measure indicators such as life expectancy, literacy, and income."  (pg. 97, italics added)
DRC fertility rate (children per woman): 6.1
DRC Income per person per year: $300
DRC Life Expectancy: 49 years
 National Geographic cites information in this section from the latest information in 2009.

"1994: Burundi's and Rwanda's presidents are killed in a suspicious plane crash, setting off a three-month rampage in Rwanda.  About a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu are killed during the genocide, and more than two million flee, many into neighboring Zaire (now the DRC).  Paul Kagame leads a Tutsi takeover of the Rwandan government, and Hutu militias retreat to eastern Zaire."  (pg. 98, italics added)

"2010-present: Despite peace agreements, armed conflict continues in the resource-rich DRC.  The ongoing tensions still pit ethnic groups against each other, but underlying the fighting are grievances over scarce land and conflict over mineral profits." (pg. 99)

"Attacked in their homes and fields, impregnated, and often cast off by their families, shattered women bring their babies to meet an aid worker in Shasha in North Kivu, a province terrorized by what activists call Congo's epidemic of rape as a weapon of war.  Soldiers and rebels moving through the area have raped more than 800 women in this village alone."
(caption, pg. 110, photo by Pascal Maitre)

 There is much more in the article than I'd like to put here.  I think we all get the picture though.  The DRC is a difficult place to say the least.  This entire area of Africa is in the same boat as it relates to scarce resources for the common person, but abundant resources for the rich warlords.

The thing that shatters me is that God intends his glory to shine in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda as much as he desires his glory to shine in our Sunday morning services.  When will help come to this area?  Who will help this area?

When Liz and I were first praying about adoption from the DRC, we were afraid to travel there.  I spoke with an international lawyer at my work who has done some contract law work in African countries, and he did everything he could to sway us away from adoption in Africa (especially the DRC).  He spoke about the corruption and lack of trust as if these things were the "law of the land" and therefore expected.  Because of the fears to travel to the DRC, Liz and I asked our adoption agency for a reason to adopt from the Congo rather than adopting from another country.  Our hearts were set on the Congo, but we needed someone to tell us it was going to be worth the risk.  They told us that although there are millions of children in the world who need families, the Congo, of any country, is the most torn and desperate place from which to snatch a child.  As Liz and I read more and more about the conditions and situation in the DRC, we are more and more convinced that the Lord has us in this process for his glory to shine through at least one Congolese native.  No one knows exactly what the future will hold for the Congo.  But what we do know is that our God is a good and gracious God who upholds and establishes justice for the fatherless.  May this prove true in the Congo sooner rather than later.

Please pray with us for the unrest in the Congo and for our little guy particularly, that he would be safe until we can get there.

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