They are orphans living at Nyatende Hospital, and children living with their incarcerated mothers at the Bukavu Prison. Life for these children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is filled with pain and hardship. Luxuries are non-existent. A simple pair of shoes is a luxury.
But thanks to a generous donation from Los Angeles activist Catherine Corpeny, International Medical Corps has been able to deliver hundreds of pairs of shoes, as well as food and other basic supplies, to the orphans and to the mothers and children at the prison.
“I had the opportunity of traveling with International Medical Corps’ team to their rehabilitated field hospital in Kausa in Eastern Congo this past November. When I returned to the States, I petitioned them about possibly partnering in creating a sustainable shoe production and distribution source in the DRC; an appeal I knew was not under the organization’s current purview,” said Catherine Corpeny. “But true to the spirit of International Medical Corps… the team agreed to locate and distribute the shoes on their own time, usually weekends. This is indicative of the International Medical Corps operation and team – a personal commitment, not only to their jobs, but also to the people and countries they serve.”
Bukavu Prison in Eastern DRC has faced declining conditions and overcrowding, with the entire prison population subjected to a lack of basic necessities and exposure to disease. More than 110 children live at the prison; local religious groups and ministries have struggled to provide even meager assistance to this highly vulnerable population.
Nyatende Hospital’s maternity ward also serves as an orphanage for children who lost their mothers during childbirth. In addition, children now living with relatives who are struggling to make ends meet also visit the complex to receive aid. Nuns have been providing food and care for these children who have nowhere else to turn for basic necessities.
With shoes purchased in Bukavu to support the local economy, International Medical Corps delivered the donated goods to a delighted crowd at the orphanage. Children in attendance received shoes based on their size and color preference. International Medical Corps Finance Coordinator, Lidija Zovko said, “There is no way to explain love you have to feel it, there is no way to explain hope you have to see eyes that are showing the shine…it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in doing, it is not how much we give but how much love we put in the giving.”
International Medical Corps has worked in DRC since 1999 providing critical health care services and capacity building among the region known for its political instability, war and extreme poverty. With generous support from donors like Catherine Corpeny, we can continue to provide resources to populations in need around the world.