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Aid after Democratic Republic of Congo earthquakes

Cathryn Clinton
March 28, 2008

AKRON, Pa--Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is providing $10,000 in emergency material assistance to help shelter and care for 100 women and children affected by two February earthquakes in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

On Feb. 2 and 14, earthquakes caused considerable damage in Bukavu, in the Rift Valley area.

According to the Bukavu mayor, the first earthquake killed five people and injured 149. The second quake injured 44 persons, two seriously.

The Church of Christ in Congo, which is the national council of Protestant churches in Congo (ECC), an MCC partner, plans to use the money to provide 100 women and children with clothing, blankets, mattresses and plastic sheeting. In addition, there will be a training for the women and children where they will be taught about reducing their vulnerability, and they will be aided in trauma recovery.

Bukavu has experienced war and natural disasters frequently over the past 20 years. Rapid construction of housing and buildings without regard to building codes have left people, especially women and children, living in homes built on unsafe sites or in poorly constructed houses full of dangerous cracks and broken walls.

The earthquake either destroyed or damaged a lot of these seriously dilapidated houses. Many women and children have been sleeping outdoors in poor conditions. They are vulnerable to mistreatment, illness and ongoing emotional trauma.

In addition to the material aid, the women will participate in a workshop to learn about constructing safer houses and choosing safe area sites on which to build. They will also have time to talk about their fears, and their children's problems due to the trauma of the earthquake and the insecurity of the frequent aftershocks.

According to Suzanne Lind, MCC worker in DRC, this aid is an expression of MCC's support for the ECC as it provides assistance, and a model in eastern Congo of churches and church agencies working together which others can replicate.