Today I have had the luxury (not to brag or anything!) or being able to stay home for a few hours and get stuff done. My plan was to get some computer work finished and wrap the gifts that I need to send to friends and family across the country. I loaded all the supplies into my little office (which is actually the spare bedroom but by golly I have put a desk in there and now it is MY office too!) and decided to get the computer stuff over with first.
My tasks are simple enough today: to enter the names and profiles of 20 kids from the Democratic Republic of Congo into a database so that perhaps someone will become their sponsors. Some of them are true orphans, some live with family or neighbors, but all of them are unimaginably poor and destitute. This sponsorship might be their only chance to–not only get an education and get out of their cycle of poverty–but also have one guaranteed meal a day. Piece of cake, right?
Let me start from the beginning with a condensed version of this crazy story. A few years ago I made an amazing friend. His name is Tresor and he is from the DRC and was attending school here. He and his family had gone through some almost unbelievable experiences both during and after the civil wars there. One of the results of the war were the crowds of children left without parents or anyone else to care for them. Many parents had died, but others were simply “displaced” and couldn’t be found. Some of these kids were being somewhat taken care of (fed sparingly but regularly–no school or anything else) in government run homes. Countless others roamed the street, trying to scavenge for food and avoid the human traffickers who prey on this weak population. After being confronted daily with the reality around themselves, Tresor’s family realized they couldn’t just sit idly by. They became one of those rare and amazing types of people who, instead of saying, “Why would You let this happen, God?!“, said “Show us what You want us to do.”
While in America a friend of Tresor asked him what it would take to make Christmas good for some of the hundreds of thousands of children stuck in state-run orphanages and living on the streets of his country. After some serious thought, Tresor answered, “50 kg of rice, some soap and toothbrushes, and a couple bags of sugar.” With that, Mwangaza International was born.This organization, started by Tresor and supported and upheld by his family and some amazing friends, begin delivering food and basic necessities to the “least of these” in the government homes. Eventually, Mwangaza opened its own children’s’ home…then begin supporting another, and another and even more. They helped build Hope Centers in their city and surrounding villages where people could come for job training, socializing, and to learn that there was a God that loved them and had NEVER forgotten any of them.
When you’re faithful with the small things God gives you bigger responsibilities. That’s both a biblical and lifestyle fact. As more people heard the story of Mwangaza and God tugged at their hearts, the ministry began offering a sponsorship program for their children. Tresor’s sisters and other workers would go out into the areas where they had established relationships with schools and find kids who they thought would be a good fit. Kids who wanted to go to school. Kids who needed it and couldn’t afford the fees on their own. Kids that God directly pointed them to. They would take their picture and interview them, then send the information to Tresor back in the states. He, in turn, would have the task of finding sponsors for these kids. The “sponsorship” ($30/month) allowed that child to go to school, participate in an after school program that included a healthy meal, and have access to emergency medical care.
Ok–sorry to have to give such a lot of historical information all at once, but it was kinda necessary. Fast forward to last summer. Tresor was back in Missouri and mentioned to me that “his girls” (the 31 that live in the first girl’s home Mwangaza opened) had facetimed with him and reminded him how much they would like a bee-yoo-ti-ful dress from America. (They are girls after all, from 6-16, and were missing their “papa”!) Now mind you, these little ladies were adequately clothed and fed because they lived in this home. However, they had never had something brand new given especially for each of them. They had been abandoned, rescued from trafficking, pulled out of the garbage dump as infants and found in the street. They had been redeemed restored and rescued by God through Mwangaza. They were princesses, and in my opinion, deserved new pretty dresses! Tresor got their sizes from his sister, so I put out a “feeler’ on facebook and asked if anyone wanted to get a dress for a specific little girl and write her a letter.
NINETY SIX DRESSES AND LETTERS ARRIVED at my door.
When Tresor went back to the Congo, 96 little girls realized they were not forgotten..that they were special..tThat God knew their name, and they were loved.
As I kept receiving pictures of the kiddos in their new dresses, I learned that many of them were on the waiting list to go to school. Many of these kids now had dresses, but not sponsors. They couldn’t go to school, and sometimes went days without food.
Now what I really wanted to do was fly straight there, pick them up and bring them all back to live with me.
Since that was not apparently a valid option, I asked how I could help. They needed someone to enter profiles into the website. Hey! Easy! Like I said earlier, piece of cake, right?
So here’s the crux of this whole post. As I’m looking at the ridiculous pile of presents waiting to be wrapped behind me, I’m also looking at a picture of a 9 year old girl who wishes to become a teacher. Tresor told me that her parents were both killed in a flood last winter and she is living with neighbors or on the streets. I just entered the profile of a 13-year-old girl who, when asked what hobbies she has, says she “wishes she had time to play, but has to help her mother haul sugarcane because she is too weak.” There is a picture of Alice, a 7-year-old who wants to have a clothing shop one day. The reason she wants this? So that her family will all have clothing and not have to share. Then there is Sylvain: he is 9 and wants to be a carpenter. He thinks that job will help him make enough money to send his brothers to school.
I realize that we live in a first-world country. I realize that we should be grateful for what we have.
I want my kids and nephew and nieces to open their crazy non-essential but really wanted gifts on Christmas and be overjoyed and thrilled! But…
But I also want to take care of these other kids. The ones halfway around the world. The ones who say their only wish is to have food. Or shoes. Or a dress.
I can’t bring them all here…even if my husband didn’t divorce me that’s still not how it’s supposed to work.
I can’t even hop a plane to Africa and share a meal and some hugs with them.
What I can do…is to do what I can.
So I will share this story here, with y’all, on this blog. I hope you won’t think I’m pushy, or a human infomercial, or a guilt-giving do-gooder. Really I just want share the story of Mwangaza and let God do what He does.
Here is the website: www.mwangazaint.org
Or just click HERE and it will link you there.
Thanks for listening.
Now I’m off to wrap some presents and hopefully make some other kiddos on this side of the globe smile for a bit.
Merry Christmas, my friends.