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Dem. Rep. of Congo, Africa

DRC03b - Rehema Prison Ministry


Partnership Ref.:

DRC03b

Commenced:

25/03/2019

Funding Status:

Fully Funded

Partnership Type:

Humanitarian, Orphans & Vulnerable Children

Funding Size:

$3,000 - $7,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 6,600

Connected To:

DRC03 , DRC03a

Video:

No video available yet

Funding Contact:

No funding required

Dem. Rep. of Congo

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Population: 67.8 million

Life Expectancy: 47.6 years

GDP: US$185 per capita

Unemployed: unknown%

79.6% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact


50 families are being assisted


Partnership Overview

desperate placeBunia Central Prison has approximately 1,200 people incarcerated, with men, women and children all in the same prison. Some of the children were born in prison.

Jacqueline Atido and her team go into the prison every Saturday and conduct a Bible study as well as providing Christian counselling to any who need particular help and prayer. They usually take little snacks (fruit, cakes or bread etc.) as many prisoners are very hungry and so not able to concentrate during the Bible study. Occasionally they take uncooked food for some of the mothers in desperate situations which they can then cook for themselves and their children.

In addition, they have opportunities to provide a modest meal for all needy prisoners and to follow this with a church service. They have seen several prisoners give their life to Christ and others have requested a Bible or Christian literature. They have also distributed used clothing to both men and women and provided medical assistance (see Personal Testimony below).  

Most of the prisoners are desperate and living in incredibly hard situations so welcome the visits from Jacqueline and her team. 

History of Partnership

George and Jacqueline Atido are originally from Bunia. They fled the area at the height of the unrest in 2002 and became refugees in Kenya. In September 2007 George gained a position as a full time lecturer at Shalom Christian University in Bunia. They sent him back to Nairobi to complete his doctorate so they were again based in Nairobi for a number of years.

When living in Bunia they were involved in pastoral ministry with the local church and in this role they met many people with problems. They were particularly moved by the number of children who were unable to go to school because of lack of finances. These children are mainly orphans or come from destitute family homes. This situation led the Atidos to look for a way to assist these children however they could. As their capacity was very limited they initially just took one ten-year old girl into their home and they provided for her education needs. However, there were many other children begging to be helped. This was the start of the Rehema Ministry. 'Rehema' is a word from Swahili that means 'compassion'. 

BHW's New Partnership Facilitator first met George and Jacqueline when they were working at another of our partnerships in Nguluni, Kenya in 2006/07. At that stage they were refugees. In 2008 George made contact with BHW telling us about the Rehema Ministry and, after communicating with him for 18 months, we commenced our partnership with them in 2010 (DRC03).

After completing his doctorate from Glasgow University through the Bible College in Nairobi, George returned to Bunia with the family to take up a position at Shalom University. Within months the principal left and George was appointed to replace him. 

During subsequent visits to Bunia, we discovered that Jacqueline was beginning to visit the prison with a group of women from local churches and the University. They were shocked to find in the prison a population of women prisoners who were very vulnerable. Many were there for minor crimes but most shocking was the fact that many of them had children with them in the prison and that they were subject to constant rape. The frequency of the visits increased over time and their understanding of the needs also increased. They did not have the resources to really help these women. 

In late 2018 George and Jacqueline asked BHW to get involved as it required more resources than they were able to access locally and in March 2019 we commenced funding of this project.  

Beneficiaries

tough lifeApproximately 50 women plus their children are incarcerated in Bunia Central Prison at any one time. This number increases or decreases as more people are imprisoned or released from the prison. 

The women in Bunia Prison have generally been convicted of crimes including robbery, kidnapping, holding a gun, murder, etc. For example, Adeline was a university student who got pregnant unwillingly, delivered a baby, but decided to throw the baby in the toilet pit and that baby eventually died. Antoinette was a widow living in a Bunia suburb. She was found with a gun, arguably for self-protection. This is illegal in Congo. Chantal is a minor girl from a village near Bunia. She got pregnant and delivered a baby she seemingly loved. But with little knowledge about baby care, one morning she found that she has slept on the baby who ultimately died. Gael from a nearby village was convicted of stealing a goat. Nima from Bunia was found associated with a group of robbers breaking into people's houses and looting goods. Rachel from a far village could not conceive so she kidnapped a baby from a clinic.

As for minor children, most of them have been convicted of rape or use of drugs. These are among offenses the government is trying to seriously fight after the war. 

What We Like About The Partnership

This project was borne out of compassion and Jacqueline becoming involved. She has been able to develop a team to go with her and come alongside the women. This team is from local churches and also the wives of students from the Christian University. This means that many of the women are able to be followed up in their communities when they leave. They have commenced this without any help so it is locally initiated. 

 

Key People

Leadership Profile

heart for peopleJacqueline Atido coordinates this prison ministry. She has a Diploma in Education and is also involved in coordinating the education component of Rehema Ministry along with her husband George. George has a Bachelor in Education and MA Missions. He graduated from Nairobi International School of Theology in 2005 and then served with Nguluni Bible Chapel as a missionary for two years before they returned to DR Congo. He has a doctorate from Glasgow University and is the principal of Bunia Shalom University, USB. They have five children. 

Other People Involved

Jacqueline is working with two main volunteers who are the wives of Bible school students. At times she also has other people come with her to help. 

 

Vision And Annual Strategy

Part of the overall vision of Rehema is to demonstrate the love of God through key people, particularly to the needy, and this is behind their ministry into the prison. The focus is to help the most vulnerable prisoners among women and children. 

Jacqueline and her team visit the prison every Saturday. They have tried to help in the ways mentioned in the Partnership Overview but with added resources all these activities will be enhanced. 

 

Annual Budget

US$6,600

 

Personal Testimony

Real "Life Change" Stories

"C" came from a nearby village where a group of militia is actively operating. She was arrested after being convicted of stealing a goat. While incarcerated at Bunia Central Prison she could not get sufficient living support which generally is supposed to come from relatives and friends but in her case they were too far away and too poor. As a result, she became pregnant with another prisoner who was giving her some meagre help.  

C delivered a baby boy in the prison but soon became very sick. Her baby also became sick and weak as he was not well breastfed. As Jacqueline was conducting Bible studies with women and children in the prison, she was very concerned by C’s situation and felt they urgently needed to provide C and the baby with medical treatment and relief food. Powdered milk was among the most important and rare commodity a nurse recommended. Thank God, Jacqueline succeeded to get medication, the food recommended and the powdered milk. Great was their joy to see a quick recovery of both C and the baby.

A Bunia Central Prison officer confessed that without such help both C and her baby could be counted among many other prisoners who ended their journey at the cemetery. He said that when family members and friends cannot come with needed help for their relatives in prison, their health is exposed to several threats and this can, in some cases, lead prisoners to death. 

Additional good news is that C was recently discharged from the prison. She went home with a big living baby and a big living testimony about divine provision. She called back from her village and was full of praise to God for His goodness. Her living testimony will speak strongly to her community. God saved her life and renewed her into a new transformed life in Christ.