Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of our homes and a place that is rich in great natural beauty. From the Rwenzori mountains to the east, to lush forests, streams, beautiful birds, wildlife, and the stars at night (wow!), it is hard to miss the creativity and workmanship of God. It is also a place full of natural resources that are fought over and sold at the expense of the Congolese.
In this beautiful place that Noé grew up in and Bethany has learned to love, there is also great hurt, heartache, and despair (much like the rest of the world).
Despite the official end to civil war in 2006, the eastern province of North Kivu remains torn by civil unrest and the effects of war. In many ways, war which started in 1996, is still ongoing. Sexual violence against women and girls, assassinations, kidnapping, and massacres of innocent populations have distressed local communities. Many individuals and families are living in pain, with suffering, and unfinished grief and trauma. We acknowledge the church, social, and community support that contribute greatly to build a sense of resiliency in people. We also recognize the limitations of these existing support systems in terms of lacking necessary skills to help people through emotional wounds, conflicts, and forgiveness.
This is why we are going back to Congo to provide counseling services to the community of and around Beni. The needs are great; there are no professional counseling services available in the area. In addition to providing professional counseling, we will train care-givers and establish a safe place where people of all religious beliefs, walks of life, and backgrounds will be able to feel understood, supported, and loved regardless of what they have experienced, or what they may be facing. We will work with local leaders (pastors, doctors, etc.) to identify issues that may be outside of their expertise, so that they can refer people to others who may better provide the counsel needed. We will work with children and adults who have experienced trauma, and walk with them on a path toward healing.
How will we do this?
- Provide Teaching and basic Training to people gifted with hearts to genuinely and non-judgmentally care for others affected by issues of life, at UCBC and in local churches.
This will be through teaching counseling courses to Theology students at UCBC. Additionally, we will conduct trainings for lay care-givers in local churches, as well as workshops for pastors.
- Reinforce peoples’ sense of resiliency by giving them new ways of dealing with Emotional Wounds coming from Existential Issues (e.g., Pain, Suffering, and Trauma), through Counseling.
Individual, family, and group counseling services will be offered, as well as pre- and marital counseling, in partnership with local churches.
- Petition with other mental health practitioners for the implementation of Mental Health (Psychotherapy) Structure and Policies.
A 2011 World Health Organization report states that there is no legislation regarding mental health in the DRC, nor are there policies that protect therapists or people seeking counseling. For counseling to be effective, people need to know that they are safe.