I went to Kinshasa, DRC, a few weeks ago. MLJ Adoptions opened its Democratic Republic of Congo program four years ago and the program keeps me very busy. The children and people of Congo, the culture and the country are in my heart. I have developed friendships, working relationships and ties with people and associates that I have great respect for. I have seen people do great things on behalf of the children in DRC. I love Congo because of all of this, but to be frank, going to Congo is always a difficult trip, not just getting there but also leaving my family behind. Leaving the comforts of my home, of my routine and my own country is difficult. People tell me I have an exciting job, but traveling becomes tedious at times, especially when you are away from those that you love.
So why am I telling you this? All the above are going through my head as I board my series of flights that will take me to Kinshasa. Once there, I am quickly reminded of the purpose of my trip. The purpose of my trip is for the children. In the adoption world we try to stress this to prospective adoptive parents; adoption is about the child and not about you.This trip, in fact, every trip I take, is not about me, it is about the children. The children still living in an orphanage; the children still without forever families. I learned that the week prior to my arrival five children had passed away due to starvation in one of the orphanages. This orphanage was one on my list to visit during my stay. The news left me speechless. While we in the U.S. are throwing away pounds of uneaten food, five children in a DRC orphanage had passed away because they had no food. I had brought two suitcases full of donations of clothing and vitamins. But this was not enough as a desperate call had been made to one of our foreign staff pleading for help, pleading that someone bring them food. We pooled our money and purchased rice, beans, sugar and cooking oil which we delivered to three different orphanages.The orphanages are a stark reminder of life for a child in DRC.
Life is hard for a child if they even survive. In every orphanage four or five children will gather around one bowl of rice sharing what is in this bowl to eat. Think about this, one bowl, containing a little less than one serving of rice to feed four children. As I look around an infant is sitting in her own excrement and crying on the floor. Cold, dark, dank and dirty does not even begin to describe the unthinkable conditions some of these children are forced to live in. It saddens me to see this poverty, this desperation. It is emotionally exhausting. But it is not about me.
After working for four years in Congo the stark reality of what I see on each visit remains the same. While I have seen some improvement here and there, it is very little improvement and there is no change to the humanitarian crisis that continues to exist in Congo. While the rest of the world busily goes about their days, orphanages struggle in Congo and children die in orphanages in Congo. I have known some of these children that are no longer with us. Children are abandoned daily in Congo. There is an orphan crisis in Congo. There is a humanitarian crisis in Congo and it breaks my heart. My trips to Congo are not about me and how difficult it is for me to go. My trips to Congo are about the children left behind living without families in deplorable conditions.
Photo Credit: peacecorpsfriendsdrcongo