Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Democratic Republic of the Congo: towards new life

Comboni Missionaries Newsletter 12.04.2021 Comboni Missionaries' Team Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

On a hill in the city of Bukavu in the south of the DR Congo, a centre has been built to take in girls accused of witchcraft.

Her face is serene and smiling as she holds the hand one of the little girls she looks after at the Ek’abana house on one of the hills of Bukavu, in the Kivu region in the south of the country. The centre has become a place of refuge for many little women who one day were called witches. Some are only five, some about twelve or older. Some have been beaten, others thrown out of their homes and others were subjected to attempted lynching. Sr. Natalina takes all of them in and listens to them.

Every day, these little girls present a problem whether great or small to which she gives a solution, especially by encouraging, urging, calming and reassuring them. She is aware that her task is to bind up their broken hearts.

Ek’abana has two meanings in the Bashi language: ‘The home of the children’ and ‘The children have a home’. Natalina Isella is a seventy-year-old Italian Sister who has spent more than forty years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sr. Natalina says: “Sorcery is a way of finding an explanation for a life of suffering. Of course, it is not the only explanation. There is also the break-up of families and the child of a previous marriage of the husband or wife is often accused; there are also the little ones born on the roads from the extremely poor and girls who have been raped; ignorance, too, makes people accuse the neighbour’s girl of causing some illness or death. Most serious of all, there are small sects led by greedy pastors who mix Christianity with a lot of superstition and presumed spiritual powers. Behind these accusations of sorcery, there is almost always one of those fake saints.”

They have deep wounds, these little girls. They have been told: “It was you who killed your mother” or “it was you who made your playmates sick.” They are treated like the condemned and thrown out onto the street.

What takes place in the minds and hearts of little girls when they are called sorcerers? In years to come, will they ever forget such a traumatic experience? Sr. Natalina says: “These are the questions that we must ask ourselves when we are faced with these children and hear the stories they cannot tell without being overcome with emotion.”

Sr. Natalina is a member of the Women Disciples of the Crucified, a small religious Institute of the diocese of Milan founded by Barnabite Gaetano Barbieri in 1964. She first came to the Congo in 1976. First, she used to look after poor families, and then she took care of former child-soldiers, after which she worked in a literacy programme for women.

The missionary Sister recalls: “It was 22 January 2002 when they brought me a group of nine homeless girls accused of witchcraft. What could I do? Leave them to sleep on a piece of cardboard? I took them in and began this work of mine. We had a small house and we arranged to be what we now call Ek’abana. In a matter of a few months, thirty more girls came to us: it was like an explosion.”

Today Ek’abana has about fifteen girl residents. Their number changes continually since their stay here is just the first of many stages on the long road to recovery. Each of them needs a family and each one is a particular case: some need to restore relations with their parents and siblings while others need to find grandmothers, aunts or cousins to take care of them. They need to go to school and learn a trade. In the past nineteen years, more than 450 girls have passed through Ek’abana and are now enjoying a ‘normal’ life. The house is also home to about twenty tiny unfortunate infants who were abandoned or left as orphans.

The tiny but tenacious missionary Sister has created a close-knit network of solidarity which provides the resources not only for Ek’abana but also a group of social workers who accompany the girls in their homes and collaborate with the police to sensitise the population against violence, abuses and accusations of witchcraft against minors.

See. Democratic Republic of the Congo: towards new life


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The comments from our readers (3)

Carla e Eugenio Grisanti 17.06.2021 È vero non solo per la repubblica democratica del Congo ma per tutto il mondo che noi si debba procedere verso una nuova vita Infatti , a mio parere, le guerre ,i conflitti ed il sottosviluppo africano non può essere ignorata dai cd paesi industrializzati che non possono fare gli gnorri quando se non complici addirittura direttamente responsabili di tante ingiustizie!
Dario Puccini 03.07.2021 Quello che mi spaventa e' che il mondo ,specialmente quello nero americano che parla di Africa, se ne appropia il concetto ed il nome stesso, generalmente non conosce nemmeno la sua geografia, tanto meno i suoi problemi complicatissimi di regioni, terre, nazioni, lingue, ceti sociali ,lingue, tribu, stermini di massa e guerre etc..; concentrato su di loro, la loro lotta dei diritti civili.. sul capitale distribuito dal capitalismo bianco solo in certe aere sociali, tipo sport, spettacolo TV, creando un capitalismo comodo e e di pelle nera; o ex presidente ora e' diventato un ricco ed impreditore in TV produzioni e che continua a dire la sua a volte senza un concetto puro m gia creato, come fa Trump con il suo nazionalismo bislacco, senza aver nessun capitolo in tema visto che e' in pensione etc. Poi quando, arriva il tema continente Africano, si parla di un Africa, astratta, sconosciuta allo stesso africano, secondo me. Si parla di un Africa (in generale guardando i media) con altri problemi che sono piu di carattere geopolitco ed di Capitale. Lo sfruttamente delle risorse, la corruzzione etc..Eppure nessuno parla mai, e quanto meno espone i veri problemi dell africa ancora indegena, conservatrice, razzista tra loro culture ancora ignorante, ancora senza vere guide democratiche..senza uno sviluppo economico dato alla loro popolazione. Si certo vedo BBC Africa, che racconta storie di sviluppo tecnologico in Africa..Bene , il resto cosa e'? Cosa rappresenta il continente Africano? Cosa e' questo gigante creato da Dio che nessuno conosce veramente? e che forse non vuole conoscere,. A parte questi esempi di religiosi e laici che molte volte danno la loro vita al servizio di Dio..il quale, magari, potrebbe , guardare piu giu' con forza.. O forse vuole dire all uomo io ti ho creato e tu ora devi portare misericordia al tuo medesimo ..Ed qui che ci scontriamo a volte. Conoscere sapere lodare trovare misericordia dovrebbe essere parte del creato, ma in un mondo di TIK TOK INSTAGRAM influencer, piu ne hai piu ne metti.. chi lo sa? Ringraziamo la Africa e preghiamo per lei e ringraziamo i lavoratori umanatari che danno la loro vita per lei, e per il mondo e sopratutto accolgono Dio dentro di loro, sapendo che fuori non e' facile vivere ed operare per conto di Dio in Africa.. DP
Margareth Sweeney 04.07.2021 Very touching. I can picture the situation of those pathetic little girls very vividly after my experience in Burundi. One of my pupils there told me her young sister had been killed aged 5 because of an accusation like this against her.