“The people of DR Congo are strong, but Covid has stretched their resilience”

Hebdavi, aid worker, speaks to a camp resident near Goma where Tearfund has provided water, hygiene and sanitation.

Hebdavi (left) speaking to a camp resident near Goma, who is able to access clean water as part of Tearfund's coronavirus response programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Arlette Bashizi/DEC

"I wish we were celebrating that the pandemic is over now but, unfortunately, it's far from over. It has gone on for so long, people are tired and their resilience has been stretched and stretched and stretched.

Impossible choices 

It’s been heart-breaking seeing people face impossible choices. Most people here rely on daily wages to survive, which means they have a tough choice to make: ‘Do I go out and risk it? I might die, I might catch the virus. But if I don’t go out, my children will almost certainly die of hunger.’   

People are telling us they need to be able to put food on the table, to feed themselves and their families. The pandemic has forced people to eat all their seeds and so now there is nothing to plant for the next season.   

More than five million people in the DRC have fled their homes due to the conflict, unrest and the recent volcanic eruption. These displaced people were already very vulnerable but a shock like the pandemic exposes them even more. We are working with people who now have no choice but to live in crowded camps - helping them to understand how to try to keep safe from Covid-19, even in this difficult environment.   

Life-saving messages 

There were many rumours here and a lot of false information about the virus. So I was pleased to see a really positive impact from the work we've done, with funds raised by the DEC, to raise awareness and make sure people have the right information. We’ve been sharing life-saving messages through radio programmes, through adverts in local languages, through songs and different means.     

For the past 18 months we’ve been working tirelessly to help people protect themselves from coronavirus. We’ve provided clean water, hygiene products, hygiene equipment and food.   

The dignity to feed themselves 

Looking forward, what’s vitally important is to give people the dignity of knowing that they can feed themselves and their families. We want to help people rebuild their lives and livelihoods by providing seeds and tools so they can go back to farming.  

I am Congolese myself. And being from the DRC means that the displaced people I'm talking about, are not just ‘those people’, they are ‘my people’. I go to the places where we are working and visit the camps and see the desperate need. I see their faces and know what they're facing.    

I wake up in the morning, and sometimes it's frustrating, sometimes it hurts, when you see the fragility and the context and sometimes the suffering. It’s so hard, but then I'm encouraged by one thing: I've seen the impact of the work we’re doing, that it is having real effects and changing people's lives. I've seen that the work that we're doing is saving lives, and that gives me the strength to wake up in the morning, knowing that we will go out there, and we’re going to save a life.   

The pandemic is far from over in the DRC. People are still in desperate need of clean water, of hygiene and sanitation products, of food to feed their families and a clean place to call home. But your donations to the Coronavirus Appeal have helped save lives and made a huge difference to many more.   

I want to say a very big thank you from everyone here at Tearfund in the DRC."

With your support, DEC member charities have run mass media awareness campaigns in the DRC, trained doctors, nurses and community leaders on Covid-19 protocols, and provided water, hygiene and dignity kits, cash and seeds to help thousands of people in the DRC survive the pandemic. 

The DEC Coronavirus Appeal has also supported vulnerable people in Afghanistan, India, the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. 



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