CHICAGO, IL (July 11, 2012) – A new Covenant World Relief grant will enable HEAL Africa, a ministry in the most dangerous area of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to integrate multiple disciplines to help individuals and communities recover from devastating violence.
Although HEAL Africa is not an Evangelical Covenant Church project, it has worked closely with the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM), Covenant World Relief and the Paul Carlson Partnership. Dick and Judy Anderson of Monroe Covenant Church in Monroe, Washington, helped found the ministry and continue to help with leadership.
Since it began operating in the North Kivu region, HEAL Africa has helped thousands of people recover their lives through a variety of ministries that have included its full-service training hospital in Goma, public health community initiatives, economic development, conflict, and advocacy for human rights.
“Communities emerging from years of conflict have often been devastated economically, emotionally, spiritually and physically,” says Judy. “This project focuses on the most vulnerable of those communities in the North Kivu province.” (The province is on the opposite side of the country in which the CEUM is located).
For multiple reasons, including donors’ desire to fund individual programs or address specific issues, the disciplines have generally operated apart from each other, says Judy, executive director of HEAL Africa USA, a fundraising arm of the African organization. The new pilot project will employ a multi-disciplinary team of experts.
“Each has worked for many years with HEAL Africa in their specific program area, often collaborating with colleagues,” says Judy. “This effort will formalize that collaboration and allow for joint strategy.
Initially, the project will focus on a community that has limited programs and is difficult to reach geographically. “It is the type that has been left out of many of the services offered by other non-governmental organizations in the region due to the difficulty in accessing them,” says Judy.
The village also will have a newly existing Wamama Simameni Women’s Center (safe house) that ministers to rape victims. HEAL AFRICA has gained international recognition for its work with rape victims in eastern Congo, often described as the most dangerous region for women.
HEAL AFRICA operates more than 30 safe houses that offer refuge and also provide long-term medical, psychological, and vocational support. See the accompanying article about one woman who has been able to start a new life as a result of the ministry.
The organization believes that “after two to three years of partnering with a community, the necessary information and tools will have been passed on, and community leadership has been built up and invested in to the extent that HEAL Africa’s role is no longer needed,” according to the proposal for the new project.
HEAL Africa’s success in creating self-dependence among the poorest of the poor is one of the reasons Covenant World Relief has funded the project, says director Dave Husby.
He also points out that despite being in the middle of such a violent area, no one from HEAL Africa has been attacked because all sides in the conflicts respect the organization for maintaining neutrality and because of its policy of providing healthcare to everyone.