Saturday, February 17, 2007

DRC Journal: Entry 6

Not even the dead can rest in peace in Congo. Today I drove past Kimbaseka, a huge cemetery that has been overgrown with high weeds and suffered extreme damage from flooding. Shreds of clothing and human bones are laid bare in the badly eroded earth. This is just another sign of the complete breakdown of infrastructure in this country. There are no phone lines, no functioning bank or postal system, no garbage removal, inconsistent availability of water and electricity, and utterly destroyed roads.

Yet on the other side of the cemetery I found hope once again in the determined faces of women. It was a self-initiated and operated community co-op. In weekly gatherings these women come together to offer what little they have to a community pot that each of them has the opportunity to take loans from to increase business capacity or to use as insurance in case of medical emergencies, etc. By working together they have been extremely successful at developing a strong support system with transparency and accountability.

Tears streamed down my face as I told them about how during my travels in DRC over the past month I have continued to witness the most beautiful, courageous women that are holding together families, communities, and so this country. Because of their commitment children are in school, food is on the table, and those who are sick are getting treatment. They are effectively raising their own status in society. Even men admit that Congo, indeed Africa, is being held up on the backs of women. I have been encouraged by more than one thoughtful, intelligent Congolese man, “If you are going to help Congo – please, please help our women.” It is not that men aren’t also integral to the health and vitality of this country but it appears that the society is undergoing a shift towards a more balanced power structure in which women are in the process of standing up to take their place in this new order of authority, and importantly, to be recognized for the strength and stability they provide.

One last time I danced and sang with these jubilant burden bearers, and as I pulled away I heard the now familiar cry---

“Do not forget about us.”


Blogger bobbie said...

this is my favorite post so far.

i just read the other day that when jesus used the phrase "kingdom of god" he speaks of it with a feminine tense - kingdom is feminine.

i truly believe deep in my heart of hearts that women finding their feet and standing to lead will be restorative in both the church, and the world to bring the kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.

6:02 AM  

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