Congo Watch: June 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mama Jeanne heads the one branch of a CRN/CEPAC project to reach out and help rape victims in North Kivu province

Here is a copy of an email received today:
Subject: Child sponsorship program

Dear Ingrid,

I hope you don't mind me contacting you as I found your details on an article in Congo Watch. I was trying to find details of the child sponsorship program run at the Mama Jeanne orphanage in Goma and how to sponsor a child. If you could point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated as I now feel as though I have lost myself somewhere on the web!
Once again my apologies for bothering you
Regards [...]
A few minutes later I did a Google search on the words: Mama Jeanne orphanage in Goma, and found the following report by Christian Relief Network (CRN). If anyone reading this has information on the child sponsorship programme run at the Mama Jeanne orphanage in Goma and how to sponsor a child, please share it in the comments here. Thanks. Meanwhile, I shall respond to the email by providing a link to this blog post and send the same link to CRN in the hope that they may assist. Copied here below are the contact details for CRN.

From Christian Relief Network 09/05/2008:
Mother to thousands

Mama Jeanne is a tall woman who embraces with warmth, smiles with her eyes and talks enthusiastically in the midst of the many crises in DR Congo. Photo: Endre Vestvik

Mama Jeanne (45) thinks that God gives her energy – in abundance. She is the mother to eight of her own children and 127 orphans. Hundreds of children have passed through her care through the years.

Mama Jeanne is a tall woman who embraces with warmth, smiles with her eyes, talks enthusiastically and, in the midst of the many crises in DR Congo, has new projects in her head. No problem is too small when it comes to Mama Jeanne. She can get angry, disappointed and then she does something about it.

In the volcanic wastelands of Goma town she runs a home for orphans and a rehabilitation centre for rape victims. She heads the one branch of a CRN/CEPAC project to reach out and help rape victims in North Kivu province. The two aspects of her work intertwine.

“Four of the children here were raped by soldiers. It is an increasing problem. I just want to cry when they violate children. We need more focus on this, says Mama Jeanne as she shows us around the home.

“The thing that keeps me going is when I see the results of what we do,” says Mama Jeanne. She shows pictures of children who have been in her care that have gotten married or are studying at university.

Since the age of 18 she has looked after children who have lost their parents. In this part of the world, death can happen fast. Malaria is rampant, aids take its toll, and the war has resulted in over five million deaths. Through the years, over 1.700 children have looked on Mama Jeanne as their surrogate mother.

CRN had not been working long in DR Congo before they met Mama Jeanne. She used to run an orphanage in the hills in Masisi. On a number of occasions she had to flee into the rainforest with the children to avoid the soldiers rampaging through the town. “The rebels were killing everyone with education. They were hunting for my husband and I. Many of our neighbours were killed and one of our ministers. I was on the run in the bush for six months. The rebels burnt down the children’s home,” she tells. With the help of CRN she established a new home in Goma. “Before the start of the most recent fighting I had plans to build new children’s homes a number of places in the province. There need is enormous,” says Mama Jeanne.

“To help women and children is the vision of God.”

CRN's work in the region started with orphan children. In 1994 they met an incredible woman, Mama Christine, in the refugee camps outside of Goma. She had previously run an orphanage in Rwanda. After the genocide and the invasion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) over two million Hutu fled into neighbouring DR Congo (then Zaire), including Mama Christine and her children. When Rwanda and Congolese rebels invaded the country and attacked the Hutu refugee camps in 1996, over 800.000 people fled into the rainforests. CRN managed to find all the 157 children from the orphanage who had fled in panic. They were returned to Rwanda. Mama Christine who was in her eighties died shortly afterwards. New homes were found for the Rwandan children, while the remaining Congolese children were cared for by Mama Jeanne in Masisi.

From the website of Christian Relief Network:

Contact details:

Post Address:
Serviceboks 410
4604 Kristiandsand
Norway

Visit Address:
Bergtorasvei 120
4664 Kristiandsand
Norway

Phone: (+47) 22 01 07 00
Email: info@crn.no

Bank account: 9791 10 88820
Org.no.: NO 871 529 302 MVA
Auditor: PricewaterhouseCoopers AS

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