Ledia: A Better Community

2 comments Written on August 21st, 2012     
Filed under: Message, News & Updates, Travel
Written by Adam Phillips

Congolese child, Nahomie, 5 years old

It’s been an extraordinary week and a half in Congo. The 75th anniversary celebrations were certainly a memorable occasion, and yet, what will continue to inspire me in the coming weeks and months are the stories of vision and community transformation already underway at the Gemena area development project (ADP).

This partnership, the first of its kind between the Covenant Church in Congo (CEUM), the Free Church in Congo (CECU), local Catholic parishes, World Vision, and the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), is already bringing about community and leadership development. Their collective vision for Gemena is robust: clean water and sanitation, school and healthcare for kids, a strengthened regional agriculture, and economic development. The community leaders have christened this vision plan “Ledia” – which is Mbaka (a local language) for “a better community.”

We had the opportunity to head into the local neighborhoods to meet with families and neighbors who are part of the area development program. My group was able to meet two young girls, Nahomie (5 yrs) and Clodine (7 yrs) and their extended families. Immediately upon arrival at both homes, it was clear the girls’ respective families had great pride in their daughters, who would serve as ambassadors and co-participants in building Ledia. We got the opportunity to share stories with one another. Nahomie’s mom and dad had been married nearly 10 years and have three children. Nahomie’s father was secretary of his local church and farmed a plot of land 5 kilometers away; grandma lives with them as well. Clodine’s mom and dad also had three kids and her father was a chauffeur for a local company that had since gone out of business. Both families mentioned their hope for clean water as an immediate need, and then some assistance to jump start agriculture and better nutrition. Times were very tough for both families, separated by neighborhoods across town, yet one thing bound them together: a real sense that their daughters, through child sponsorship, had a critical role to play in seeking Ledia. Even amidst the immense struggle there was joy, laughter, and strong resilience.

The Kenzawe family. Clodine, 7 years old, is pictured on the left.

After visiting the families we went back to debrief with World Vision DRC staff over a meal. The team is very impressive with around 20 staff members with various levels of experience, all receiving ongoing leadership training and professional development. One of the younger staffers I met was Ruth, who was very excited about her new job and shared with me her dreams to go back to the university to get a graduate degree in nutrition. Everyone around the Ledia/World Vision project has a vision here for strengthened lives and community, and there is an abiding sense that with just enough additional assistance, they’ll be able to thrive and assist others.

We wrapped up the day meeting with local volunteers in three local congregations. My group spent time at Notre Dame parish hearing from a dozen or so young adults who had worked from 5am to 6pm at night with no pay or breaks for meals, along with volunteers from other local churches, registering an average of 100 kids each. They were an impressive bunch, and you could see that the leadership development of the staff had exponential effects for the volunteers and was already building capacity across the local churches, and perhaps most significantly, building up the next generation for a new, sustainable, and ecumenical Gemena.

Along the way we visited a local natural spring, tucked away behind a series of homes in one of the central neighborhoods in Gemena. It was a shared water source for the entire community; bubbling up cold spring water for the last 12 years. Yet, there were uncertainties about its cleanliness. With the Ledia project, there were scheduled tests to determine if the water, in fact, was potable (safe for drinking). If so, the spring would be capped to ensure sanitation and provide a pipeline of clean drinking and cooking water for years to come. The image of the spring made real Jesus’ image of “living water” for me in ways I had never quite understood before. Through Ledia, may it be so for the people of Gemena – our sisters, brothers, and co-laborers for a renewed, vibrant community.

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2 comments “Ledia: A Better Community”

All of Gemena is impacted by this growing ecumenical/World Vision partnership. People are looking to a brighter future, ready to see change after decades of war.  Thanks for spreading the word, and not forgetting the Naomi’s and Claudine’s all across Equateur.

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