An Update

Yesterday Debora called Mama Sifa to check in. Since the fire last month, things have been difficult. Here is the message we received from Debora today-

I just called Mama Sifa. She had been so discouraged this morning- it poured with rain last night and she and the babies woke up at 2am this morning drenched from the rain in the room she shares with the little ones. So discouraging.
But she was praising God, we were both crying because of his goodness.

 

What Mama Sifa didn’t know in that conversation was that the rebuild for Family Bethlehem had been completely funded within moments of her cry. 

 

Her response was to praise God for his goodness while she had nothing. In her suffering, in her disappointment, in her discouragement, the cry of her heart was praise and gratitude. God heard that cry. And He provided. We're wiring money to DRC tomorrow to begin construction. Tomorrow! 

 

That means the children will be able to move back in. They will sleep, warm and dry under a roof. They will get clothes and school supplies and new beds. Madel can leave as scheduled, knowing the children will have a place to lay their heads. Mama Sifa, Papa Jerome, and the all the children will be reminded that they are not alone.


Those of us who volunteer to run this organization have been engaged in an ongoing and ridiculously long message thread over the past weeks planning and unrolling this fundraiser. When you’re scattered all over the world through four different time zones, you drop messages like, “You are NEVER going to believe this!!!!” “FULLY funded!” “Whaaaaaa????” You jump up and down in your living room where you’re working and then crumple into a mess of emotion on the couch because you never imagined God could take your little offering of time and energy and turn it into this. While Mama Sifa may have needed our money, we are quite confident that we needed her example. Someone to put flesh on Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  

In chatting with Holly Mulford, our founder, she shared- 

When I first thought of having a raffle with some of my favorite things from East Africa, I didn’t hope big. I thought “maybe” we could raise a total of $10,000. I wanted to give 75% to the children’s home damaged by the fire and 25% to our work in DRC. You might wonder why I didn’t want to give all the raised money to the fire rebuild. Well, I suppose it is because though I was hoping to raise maybe $10,000, we all have really big dreams at Reeds of Hope. For the past five years those dreams have grown and grown alongside the Congolese women and men we partner with on the ground. We have always been limited by pressing needs—school fees (which are so very important), college fees, and now, this devastating fire. Through all this, we’ve felt a stirring to pursue the dreams and passions that God has put in our hearts for DRC. We’ve just never quite figured out where that extra funding would come from. We’ve been waiting, trusting that God would provide at the right time.

 

In the last year we’ve seen an outpouring of generosity from people have been moved by God to care for children in Congo. These donations have allowed us to meet our basic commitments and even expand our work into Kinshasa with Emmanuel Training Center. This fundraiser was meant to help us make it to the end of the year so we could breathe out before figuring out how we were going to pay for all our projects in 2016. Suddenly, the doors opened and overnight this raffle became the means by which we just might, finally, be able to follow these dreams and prayers with our brothers and sisters in DRC.  So, we are overwhelmed and thankful to announce that the fire rebuild is completely funded and we are going to trust the rest of this raffle to God's hands.

Will you join us? Will you continue to share and buy tickets and watch what God does?  Would you pray for our partners on the ground doing this important work? And will you stay tuned in 2016 to see how these gifts bring hope and restoration to children in Congo? 

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, we are so grateful. All glory to God. 


Here's a summary of the work we're doing in DRC now. You can find more details by exploring our website. Please feel free to reach out to us via the contact page as well! Our hope for the future is to push forward into family care- orphan prevention, family preservation, reunification, and creation. There is so little work being done in this area in DRC, and yet it is so needed. We believe that poverty should never separate children from families that want and love them. When there isn't an option for a child to return to a biological family, we want to facilitate opportunities for children to join existing Congolese families as sons and daughters. When a single mother feels defeated by the prospect of feeding her baby, we want to step into that gap. This is just the beginning... 

Currently, our projects in Eastern DRC include: 

-School fees, uniforms and supplies for 85 primary and secondary students in Eastern DRC: all of these children reside in a home run by an older couple for children who have been orphaned or whose family cannot care for them.  This couple has been caring for children for over 20 years, and have adopted many of the children themselves.  These kids are supported through individual sponsorships.  Starting in January 2016, we will be seeking additional sponsors for these children. 

-University fees for 8 teens/young adults:  These teens and young adults have grown up in the home described above.   Faced with extremely high unemployment rates in Eastern DRC, they have the drive and passion to pursue higher education so that they will be able to find a job.  All of the students' educational costs have been funded! We are taking donations into a scholarship fund that will allow future secondary graduates the opportunity to begin university. 

-Social Worker in Eastern DRC:  in the past year, Reeds of Hope has hired a social worker to work with our Congolese partners to implement family reunification programs or other long term permanent housing for some of the children.  Donations to our organization help to fund this work.

-Staff Training:  Family reunification work is new in Eastern DRC, and we believe in Congo as a whole.  For this reason, we wanted our social worker and manager to attend a training program outside of Congo to better prepare them for their work.   Many thanks to Abide Family Center for their help on this project!  This project is funded by one time donations as well as monthly donations from interested donors.  

-Reunification programs: We strongly believe that, where possible, children in orphanages should be reunited with their birth families. Our organization is committed to family reunification, and has successfully assisted a grandmother in raising her grandson.  This boy was placed in an orphanage as an infant, and identified as a candidate for international adoption.  He was ultimately reunited with his grandmother. She struggled with her ability to support her grandson, so Reeds of Hope helped restart her business.  He is doing well and his grandmother is successfully working to support him. Most importantly, they are thrilled to be reunited and living together as a family. These efforts have been supported through one time donations.

-Long term quality foster care programs: When children cannot be adopted or moved into their adoptive homes, our organization has found capable foster parents.  For example, two small children who had been adopted by a family in the U.S. were unable to leave DRC to join their family (for many complicated reasons).  We were able to help the adoptive parents locate a loving, long term quality foster care program for these children, and our manager is assisting the adoptive parents in supporting them.   

-Short-term emergency shelter for children in crisis: Due to a lack of maternal health care in Eastern Congo, far too many women die in childbirth.  Reeds of Hope provides short-term housing and care for the babies who have lost their mothers.  For example, Reeds of Hope was able to facilitate the care of a small baby in the Family Bethlehem home.  The mother of the baby had died and the extended family could not take care of such a small infant.  The baby will be returning to the extended family once she is strong, eating solid food, and healthy. This project is funded by one time and regular donations, usually on a case by case basis.  

Our projects in Kinshasa include:

-Supporting vulnerable mothers:  Reeds of Hope supports the sewing program at Emmanuel Training Center to help at-risk mothers support themselves and their families.  The center provides education and training to the women, and further assistance starting their own business.  Upon completion of the program, the women are provided with their own sewing machines. 

-Supporting older children:  Once children "age out" of an orphanage, they are at risk of ending up jobless and homeless on the streets of Kinshasa.  Reeds of Hope provides support to boys and girls who have grown up in a large, well-known orphanage and are close to "aging out."  We have partnered with a local organization to help these teens receive an education, specifically in English language skills and working with computers.   Our goal is to set these young people up with a small shop in Kinshasa, to provide a secure income and future. 


All donations to Reeds of Hope are tax deductible. Please contact Holly at hollydoden at gmail dot com with any questions. Thank you!