Sparking Small Glimmers of Hope Amid Violence
As war in Ukraine vies daily for our attention, an equally devastating one also rages on—much further from the reaches of popular awareness. Although the Democratic Republic of the Congo* largely exists outside the headlines these days, our Salesian missionaries on the ground serve as witness—helping victims of violence and displacement write new stories of hope and salvation.
For nearly 25 years, the country has endured intense, murderous conflict during which millions of people have already died. More recent escalations have led to a resurgence of brutality that now extends directly into our missionaries’ communities. And yet, with nearly 6 million innocent civilians displaced by fear, these dedicated Salesians have intensified their commitment to assist however they can.
At Don Bosco Shasta, missionaries have welcomed thousands of internal refugees and are providing food and water as a stop-gap measure. Although many of these people were chased away at the beginning of March by uncomfortably close gunfire—including dozens of teachers and hundreds of children attending Salesian schools there—missionaries remained and continue to offer sanctuary on campus grounds.
And in Goma, where more than 28,000 people have sought refuge at Don Bosco Ngangi since last October, missionaries have responded with new infrastructure to better accommodate the growing community. They are installing lighting, toilets and tarps for shelter; increasing access to drinking water; providing food staples and cooking oil; offering medical care as best they can; and more.
“As desperate as the situation seems, I’m so heartened to hear of the remarkable difference my fellow missionaries are making, one person at a time,” says Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. Sometimes, the rays of hope borne of these efforts shine brightly on this refugee camp and the people there. “Recently for instance, twelve older adults who had been separated from their loved ones and staying alone at Don Bosco Ngangi were reunited with their families at an internationally administered refugee camp in Goma. This happened with help from our missionaries, who were even able to give each person a kit with food, water, blankets, tarps and other necessities to take with them.”
“It seems like a small thing,” Fr. Tim continues, “but in these moments of extreme fragility and fear, such kindness is truly immeasurable.”
Looking ahead, Salesian missionaries throughout the country hope to implement longer-term projects to help address the root causes of poverty and despair that lead to conflict.
“The violence shows no signs of easing, at least not right now,” says Fr. Tim. “At the same time that our missionaries plan to expand their capacity for supporting the displaced, they also envision new educational projects that will prepare youth for better futures and help them see their way forward.”
Learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Our mission provides immediate humanitarian aid while seeking to address the root causes of poverty and despair. What’s your mission?
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.