A LONG HISTORY OF CHAOS AND VIOLENCE
The Democratic Republic of Congo, equal in size to the United States east of the Mississippi, is home to vast expanses of pristine rain forest, rare animal species and a large potential for wealth in the form of highly valuable minerals and natural resources. Yet, DR Congo is also one of the poorest, most chaotic nations on the planet, ruined by unrest that is estimated to have claimed millions of lives in the past 10 years, the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. In many corners of the country, law, order, electricity and medicine are virtually nonexistent.
ELI began work in Bukavu, Congo in 2001 with focus on establishing micro enterprises projects and a village demonstration farm. In 2004 ELI teamed up with community members in the Keredi slum, once an internally displaced camp, to establish a Christian School now known as ELI Christian Academy. Here over 500 children attend from kindergarten through high school. Along with an education, ELI runs a feeding program for the students.
Following a landmark peace agreement and a tumultuous political transition backed by the world’s largest UN peacekeeping operation, the DRC held largely successful elections in 2006. However, elections were not a panacea to Congo’s ills; 45,000 people die each month, mostly from the crippling effects of widespread displacement in the country’s eastern provinces. Worse still, armed groups routinely commit acts of rape and sexual violence against Congolese women and girls. A recent but increasingly fragile ceasefire is the first step towards a lasting peace, but the threat of renewed conflict remains as an ongoing reality.