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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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At the heart of HEAL Africa's work

At the heart of HEAL Africa’s work in northeastern DR Congo are the Nehemiah Committees. Each committee consists of village leaders, men and women, who represent all faith groups in community. They work together to help find ways to help the most vulnerable in their village. For the past five years HEAL Africa has been working with villages to help them find local solutions to their own challenges. Knowing that they’re not alone, but that they are being accompanied in the process, has given strength and released energy in 95 villages in North Kivu and 48 villages in Maniema provinces, Northeast Democratic Republic of Congo.  

Minova  IDP camp, North Kivu. 2009. People had  fled from armed military FDLR/interahamwe attacks which began  two weeks prior.

Minova  IDP camp, North Kivu. 2009. People had fled from armed military FDLR/interahamwe attacks which began two weeks prior. The Nehemiah committee from the nearby village was meeting with camp leaders. They were concerned about medical care, schools, and food. They hadn’t received any food yet from international agencies; the local community was helping them out. Some of the IDPs were working as day laborers for villagers. IDP huts occupied the valley that had been fields. The Nehemiah Committee was helping the IDPs to organize themselves and help provide services. The pastors, priest and imam were all there for the meeting the day we came. They knew how many people there were, where they had come from, and what the most urgent situation was. One of the leaders of the IDP camp was a schoolteacher, and he was organizing a school. But they had no supplies. And still, no food. The Nehemiah Committee could lobby on their behalf, and was doing so. And the Nehemiah Committee was linked to HEAL Africa staff in Goma, who could also lobby in a different arena—both in Goma and the world. Power to the people. At least some of the people, some of the time!

 Nehemiah committees all over North Kivu have responded with resilience, courage and determination to the various emergencies that have hit them this year. They work closely with HEAL Africa program staff to spread the word within their communities of faith. They have planted gardens, learned to engage the law and question social mores about women and girls, urged men to get HIV tested along with their pregnant wives; they have responded to women’s concerns about teacher abuse of girls in his class and pressured a school principal to fire that teacher. It is a work in progress, but people are coming together to confront injustice and to use means at hand to help those in their midst. Committee members phone news in to the HEAL Africa staff in Goma. They are learning to document what they do so it can be applied to research. They are integrating information about malaria, HIV and other diseases that can be prevented with what to do when you contract those diseases. Villagers are linked to mobile teams that reassure them that they’re not forgotten. When for so many years they have thought they were.

Nehemiah committees are forging a new way of looking at the “us-them” divides that have mobilized people so effectively to do harm. Nehemiah committees are the vanguard of a future for Congo that is firmly rooted in community, connected to the world, and committed to using its own resources to improve life for the people of the village. All the people.