African values to re-vitalize the World

KIMBONDO & BIBUA

I chose to visit the city of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) because of my personal ties with the city since my childhood. I wanted to start by giving back to communities there first and see what we can do from there. Being fortunate to be educated in and with experience from the U.S., I wanted to apply my capacities as a Nurse Practitioner in my community and native country. I was devastated by the life conditions of my people and needed to come to their aid with whatever means I had at my disposal. I did 13 days of deep exploration. I decided to visit Kimbondo, a children’s hospital and an orphanage, and Bibua, a small clinic and maternity ward.

I met with the head of Kimbondo, an Italian doctor, who has been running the orphanage for many years now. He could not really explain how they were managing and said that they have been surviving by the grace of God. And that is who he has been moved to serve with dedication that made him stay there for many years. Their pediatric hospital needs everything and anything. I brought 4 large suitcases of medical supplies I gathered from the generous leadership of the Children’s Hospital of Colorado where I work presently. What was a heavy load to bring from the U.S. seemed so meager and I was baffled by the realization of how much more needs to be done to cover even basic needs. It was disastrous and mind blowing to see how the orphaned children I met there were living in utterly inhumane conditions. In the aftermaths of many wars, the Congo is left with so many orphans. In Kimbondo, I found more than 700 children living on the average of $10 a day.

In what they called their operation room, they had to keep children with all sorts of diseases – tuberculosis, malaria, malnourishment and developmental delay and severe handicaps, and more. What I was awed by is that only only are they trying to take care of the children’s basic needs and health issues but they were striving to educate them – they were sending the children to school and gave it their best to offer them some kind of education. But many of the children needed special education. While I was devastated by the lack of minimal resources, I admired their goals and their indomitable spirit.

The conditions were unbearable – no clean water to drink, no clothing for children, no place to sleep, not enough food for the children. Some of those kids were new born babies. There was not enough personnel to take care of the children let alone of the entire compound. The employees were paid when there were funds to pay and they were, actually, volunteering.
It is the same conditions I found at the Bibua clinic tending to another group of the most vulnerable – pregnant women and new mothers. Bibua needed basic medical supplies, pay for the employees, and food for all. It was heart-breaking to see newborns coming into such conditions and seeing what direction their lives can take just by the conditions into which this beautiful new life was born. Again, I brought multiple bags of supplies and, yet, felt it was all just symbolic help. The staff, however, was so grateful and appreciative reassuring me that I have brought tremendous help.

Those 13 days dropped me into even deeper inner exploration brainstorming ideas and strategies to bring in more support to the mothers and children in such dire need. I want to be there to make sure they have a second chance to rebuild their lives. I want to support them upward to the regeneration of their lives. From basics – food, shelter and medical supplies, I want to see them reintegrated back into the society where they can have jobs and productive lives.

It was hard to leave because the people are so welcoming even in the midst of toughest conditions. I left with profound sadness but also with heightened determination to return and bring with me many more Prodige Hands.

I hope you feel moved and inspired by this sketch of my visit to the Congo. I hope you will see how much the world needs your participation and your landing hand to causes that give greater meaning to our lives. I invite you to join hands with us.

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