Two young lives saved in DR Congo

From the archive.

A homeless, pregnant 14-year-old girl in Lubumbashi, DR Congo, found a place of refuge and was able to safely give birth, thanks to staff at the Kimbilio Centre.

Offering a place of safety | Jean Bosco Tshiswaka, CMS Timothy partner, leads Kimbilio.

In 2014, Amelie (name changed) fell out with her mother and ran away from home, which was actually a brothel her mother managed. She fled to the streets where she was taken advantage of by an older man and became pregnant, according to CMS Timothy partner Jean Bosco Tshiswaka, head of Kimbilio.

By the time Kimbilio staff met Amelie at their day centre towards the end of 2015, she was exhausted and despondent. “Hope had long since left her,” said Ian Mullens, a CMS short-termer at Kimbilio. “She was also quite clearly ill with suspected malaria but hadn’t seen a doctor.

“As we offered words of empathy, a solitary tear fell from her bowed head. It was the first time someone had showed her the slightest care for far too long.”

Amelie moved into one of Kimbilio’s houses for girls and was warmly welcomed by the other residents. “It was a beautiful moment as she cracked her first smile,” said Ian.

Empathy | CMS short termer Ian Mullens is working at Project Kimbilio

“Over time we saw once again the simple difference that’s made when a child is given a place of safety, acceptance and love. Her solemn mask faded away and this funny, wonderful kid emerged.”

The Kimbilio team has made contact with Amelie’s mother, who has visited Amelie a few times. “We are starting to help them rebuild their relationship, while putting care of Amelie and Moishi first.”

In addition to providing practical and spiritual care for dozens of street children, one of Kimbilio’s aims is to reunite children with their families whenever possible and appropriate. In 2015, 19 children went home to their families. Kimbilio was started by a CMS mission partner in 2009.

Amelie received the medical care she needed. In January she went into labour, which started normally but several hours later it became apparent that she was going to need a caesarean due to her small size.

Eventually her baby boy was born and Amelie named him Moishi, which is the Congolese form of Ian.

“It dawned on us that [if we hadn’t met her] and she hadn’t been able to get to hospital, Amelie and the baby would likely have died,” said Ian.

“We can’t know what life will be for Moishi, but he’s got a start, and he’s got a pretty amazing mum. And for that we are all immeasurably thankful.”

Published 4 April 2016

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