Partner Stories

George and Jacqueline Atido - Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo

In 2002, George and Jacqueline Atido were forced to flee their home town of Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ethnic clashes and sporadic violence was beginning to become more common and threatening. Just six months’ later in 2003 the violence crippling the country swept into Bunia.

Hordes of tribal warriors and drug-crazed children wielding machetes and rocket-launchers marauded through the town, unleashing a frenzy of murder. Tens of thousands of terrified refugees were forced to escape across the Ugandan border.

By this time George and Jacqueline had moved from Uganda to Kenya where they settled for a time in a town outside Nairobi. For the next few years, George studied theology then in 2007 he gained a position as a full-time lecturer at a University in Bunia. Apprehensively George and Jacqueline returned, unsure what they were going back to.

The shattered town had stabilised somewhat, and George and Jacqueline became involved in pastoral ministry with their local church. In their roles, they constantly encountered traumatised people dealing with loss, death and displacement. They were particularly moved by the number of children who were unable to go to school. These children were mainly orphans from destitute families whose parents had been murdered. In many cases, children were parenting children.

The Atidos looked for a way to assist these children but their capacity was very limited. They took in one ten-year-old girl as their daughter, but so many other children were begging to be helped. They simply could not become parents to them all. To address this need George and Jacqueline started a ministry called ‘Rehema’, which is Swahili for 'compassion'. With the aim of providing a sustainable level of care for the orphans, the Atidos prayed that other people would join them in their efforts to help these children.

Shortly thereafter a team from Bright Hope World met George and Jacqueline and were impressed with their vision and commitment. After visiting several times over a couple of years, we were delighted to begin supporting the work of Rehema.

All told, the war in Congo has claimed about five and a half million lives, and there is no sign of it ending. Several times the Bright Hope World team has planned to visit, but has been stopped by outbreaks of violence near Bunia. Yet George and Jacqueline are helping dozens of children. They are also assisting many women and young prisoners in horrific conditions.

In the midst of chaos and violence, George and Jacqueline are a light on a hill and a beacon of hope for so many people.

To read more about George and Jacqueline Atido, and Rehema Ministry, click here.

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