About the DR Congo
Did you know there are 2 Congos in Africa? The larger Congo is the one we are working in (formerly called "Zaire"). A vast country with immense economic resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been at the centre of what some observers call "Africa's world war". This has left it in the grip of a humanitarian crisis. The war proper was a five-year conflict which pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.
Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional government in 2003, some people in the east of the country remain in fear of continuing death, rape or displacement by marauding militias and the army.
The war claimed up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. It has been called possibly the worst emergency in Africa in recent decades.
The war had an economic as well as a political side. Fighting was fuelled by the country's vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources, and some small militias fight on. — see BBC News for more info.
Haut-Katanga, Lualaba, Haut-Lomami and Tanganyika Provinces
Set in the mid-south and south-east of the DRC, these provinces are mineral rich (especially Haut-Katanga). These and other eastern provinces suffered the worst of the country's violence over the last decade or two. Even now, the region is somewhat unstable and in a semi-constant state of military alert.
The legacy of such violence has been one of minimal infrastructure, poor medical facilities and very little public investment in education (particularly in rural areas). The vast majority of people in Haut-Katanga and Tanganyika are subsistence farmers, with others eking out a living from fishing or the production of charcoal.
In rural areas of these provinces, almost all significant medical aid and education is provided by church groups such as Mission Garenganze, a 1500 strong network of church communities operating some 10 hospitals, 30+ clinics and 500+ schools. While Mission Garenganze is Christian, its medical and educational facilities are open to anyone who seeks medical or educational help, regardless of race, tribal affiliation, language or religion.