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Report Date: May 16, 2018

Update from George Atido, Rehema Ministry


assessing situationCalvary greetings from Bunia.

Recent Events

We are moving on well with the ministry to the displaced pregnant women in Bunia. The official record shows that 243 babies were born among the displaced women who fled to Bunia since January 2018. So far, nine of the babies have died. 

We spent a week with several visits among the displaced people to help us better understand the situation so as to come up with a Rehema project strategy that will best respond to the current needs of these displaced people. Some of them are hosted in families, some in churches and a good number are in the two main camps which are overseen by a catholic priest and another by a protestant pastor.

displaced and pregnantWe focused on the the camp supervised by Igance, a protestant pastor. We met 139 pregnant women with whom we conversed several times. They are desperate, stressed and traumatized. Some of them (including their children) are malnourished. Some women have had their husbands killed, while the husbands of others have remained in the villages to protect and defend their land and belongings. A few husbands are with their wives in Bunia but remain powerless as they are not in a position to work and earn money. Some have been given occasional casual work which only pays the equivalent of $1 or less per day. We also met several displaced women in suburbs.

Most of the displaced ladies are Christians. We prayed with them. The majority can speak Swahili, the vernacular spoken in Bunia. A few cannot but Ignance and his wife know their mother tongue and are assisting in translating when needed.

Elderly people and pregnant women are among the most vulnerable in the camp as they have difficulty collecting goods or food during distribution as in most cases strong people rush to take distributed goods which are often not sufficient for all the displaced people.

tough placeFrom our several interactions with Igance’s team and talks with the displaced women we have come up with some way forward, changing our initial plan:

1) The tension and stress in the camp makes it difficult for outsiders to distribute help alone. Therefore we have decided to partner with Igance and his wife who are already well organized with their assisting team. They have a good reputation with the church and have an office in the field. They stay with the displaced people every day from 6am in the morning until 8 pm in the evening, including Sunday when they have a church service with them. They are well respected by the displaced people. They know the stories of most of the displaced people. They are happy to volunteer and partner with us in distributing the Rehema help.

2) Igance has advised that it is not recommendable to select just a few women in the camp for help. The camp is less secure and open to violence. Segregated help is attracting jealousy, theft, and even violence. One day a European journalist visited the camp and as he was leaving, he gave some money to a woman. Several people ran toward that poor lady to take the money from her. In the process, she had the money stolen and her arm fractured.

needing helpWe have therefore decided to assist all 139 pregnant ladies in the camp without even minor discrimination as this would guarantee security of what they will receive and enhance good relationship among them. We have also selected a further 10 pregnant women to help among the ones hosted by some families in the suburbs. These ones can be managed individually.

Out of the 139 current pregnant women identified by Rehema, 46 are in their 8th and 9th month. These were the first priority and concern of Rehema's recent distribution to support the coming babies in clothing and delivery related needs and expenses. On the day of the first main distribution, one of the ladies delivered and was happy to receive the first Rehema delivery assistance. The 93 remaining women are however unhappy with this plan which we can unfortunately not change. We find it important to focus for now on the ladies who are going to deliver soon and provide them with the basic support they may need. We will move to help others according to available support.

good records3) We have made a form taking the name of each woman registered for help. The form will indicate the assistance received, the date and the tick. This will help us avoid duplication or oversight during the distribution of goods. From our interaction with the ladies, the most critical needs appear to be help towards the coming baby. This will include the delivery cost, warm blanket, towel, washing basin, baby cloths, baby lotion, baby soap, mosquito net, nappy, etc. 


Personal Stories
Machozi just gave birth to a baby boy two days ago. A small clinic run by a Christian welcomed her and assisted her to deliver without charge. She said the baby was good and bad news to her.

This was for her a sad celebration because she had nothing for the baby except one cloth which made it difficult when she would need to change the baby.


needing helpComments

The support given so far is a great relief for these women. Pastor Igance can also testify to this. However, as we are in the rainy season now, the babies (and also the mothers) need additional warm blankets to protect the infants and themselves from the cold.

We are very much grateful for BHW support and will very much appreciate any kind of help for these women who are in great need.