Eat, Act, Pray - December
- pockmarked with violence, colonial extraction and deep-rooted corruption. Rebel groups continue to fight government troops in a conflict so complex and long-ranging that trying to grasp the subtleties is an exercise in futility. Loyalties shift, power bleeds and flows and now, as always, it is the non-combatants that take the brunt of the horror. Violence, particularly against women, sexual assaults and whole families driven from their homes are common occurrences.
Shabunda is a place where people run to, the centre of an extended, forested zone in the East of the country. Like much of the DRC it is also an area rich in natural resources, palm oil and gold are both plentiful but violence has left much of it abandoned in the forest.
Shabunda is incredibly isolated with a tiny humanitarian plane the only real way to travel in or out. The runway is a thin gravel path in a forest clearing. The infrequent plane provides the only supply link for both local people and aid workers. Due to the ever-present conflict, the national road network has progressively deteriorated leaving most thoroughfares beyond repair.
People are constantly fleeing to Shabunda central from neighbouring areas due to violence. Many of these people are women, victims of sexual assault seeking the safety of host families and medical support provided by Medecins Sans Frontiers.
You can read the stories of some of these women and men here (but be warned that, due to the nature of the conflict in DR Congo, all of the stories presented could be potentially very upsetting - we don’t want to shy away from the reality of these incredible people’s lives and so we have, so far as translations will allow, let them tell it in their own words).
As you sit down to share food, try to think about what it would mean to have to flee your home with no plans or guarantee of safety.
Talk it Over
Watch this film:
- Read Matthew 3 v13 - talk about what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph and their newborn son? How must it have felt to run so far and so fast?
- Imagine leaving your home in a rush, knowing that you may never return? What would you bring? What could you carry with you?
- How do you see internally displaced people and refugees being treated in the media? What do people you know say about them on any of your social networks?
- How do you think you can help? How might you speak out against their treatment?
More than 65 million people are fleeing from conflict and crises this Christmas.
So, as we enter advent, in a spirit of hope and the coming of our new-born king, let’s act.
Join our Christmas appeal, Light the Way and send a Christmas card to our prime minister, Theresa May, asking her to do more for refugees - both through the policies her government enacts and the the remarks she makes in public. It might seem a small thing, one more Christmas card in a pile of well wishes, but it could make such a difference.
Cassava is a stable in the DRC. This is a non-tradition recipe using it - perfect for sharing around this Christmas.
Cassava can be found at world markets and specialist shops. Don’t worry if you can’t find it - sweet potato or even the humble ‘normal’ potato will do just as well.
God of light
I will not be bound to the past
by rope or by chain
I will not let things left broken define me
nor drag them forever after me raw and jangling
I will not think only of the future
of what may never be or must be
I refuse to move towards the inevitable
or accept the probable on faith
live in your moment
feel the warm air around me
the sense of space
one foot in front of the other
the world lit in burnt oranges and reds beneath my eyelids
let me find your people
let me be your welcome