Educate a Community: God our RescuerNovember 14, 2013 by Diana Coombs
She answered our questions with no hint of emotion. It was almost as if she was numb to the pain and poverty that is the reality of her life, so, I was surprised when her answers were filled with hope.
“Do you sometimes feel God’s Love?”
“How do you feel God’s love?”
“He takes care of me and rescues me from my problems.”
Chantal has hope even though her circumstances speak otherwise.
She rents a six foot by six foot wooden shack in the middle of a slum in Bukavu, D.R. Congo. She struggles to pay the rent, but, she works hard so that she and two of her youngest children can have a place to sleep at night. It’s important for her to live in this shack because it means that her children can go to school. If she stayed in her village, her children would not receive an education because there are no schools in the area.
This mother knows that an education is a chance for her children to get out of poverty. If they learn how to read, write and perform math, they will have more of an opportunity to get a job and provide for themselves and their families. Chantal will do anything to provide for her children.
One of her children is Riziki. She is 13 years old and is in the 5th grade. She is shy as she talks, not making much eye contact. She is happy to attend ELI’s school because she says a good education will help to “build her life”. Her favorite subjects are math and French. She walks 10 minutes through the Keredi slum, all by herself, in order to reach our school. She’s grateful the walk isn’t an hour or more, like it is for some students. She’s proud to wear a white shirt with a navy blue skirt, the ELI school uniform, because it shows she is part of a school and has a purpose, rather than roaming the streets like other kids do.
Life has not been easy for Riziki and her family. Her father passed away from cancer in 2010 and her mother is still deeply grieved by the loss. Now a widow, Chantal’s responsibilities are even more burdensome. However, knowing her daughter can attend school is a light in her life. She will work long hours doing hard labor in order for Riziki to go to school. Someone might hire her to work in their garden or wash their clothes.
The labor is arduous and tiresome and she might earn less than one dollar a day. Most of that money will go towards food, and even that is not enough to feed three bellies. The good news is that ELI helps pay for Riziki’s school fees. Most schools charge three times as much in school fees than what ELI charges. We are able to do this because of sponsorships and other generous donations. Not only are families paying less in school fees, but, their children are receiving a quality education and one meal a day.
As we ended our conversation with Chantal and Riziki in their small home, I heard a baby cry. I looked around to see where the baby was and realized he was strapped to the back of Chantal the whole time. We asked whose baby that was and she replied that it was her neighbor’s baby; she was watching him for the day as a source of income. If she gets a job plowing while she’s watching the baby, then she’ll keep him strapped to her back as she works.
This mother lives a difficult life. She doesn’t know if she will earn enough money to feed her children each day, but, she does know that God will provide for her every need. She relies on the promises of God, help from neighbors and generous donations from ELI; she believes that He will take care of her, Riziki and her family and rescue them from their problems.