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DR CONGO: 250 children provided safety during Nyiragongo volcanic eruption

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Ngangi Center in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, is responding to the needs of people impacted by the recent Nyiragongo volcanic eruption. At close to 11:30 p.m. on May 22, Salesians, Salvatorian Sisters and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians had to remove all of the children from the Maison Ushindi orphanage and the young residents of the Saint Kizito Institute in order to keep them safe.

Don Bosco Ngangi Center was providing accommodations for 250 children in two sites until a new evacuation order forced them to move the children again. The Maison Mama Marguerite cares for 135 girls and small children, and the Maison Gahinja has 95 children and boys up to age 19. Salesians and the children have been moved to Shasha, a city located about 40 km from Goma, where the Salesians have a plantation of several hectares. On May 27, 10 out of the 18 neighborhoods in Goma were forced to evacuate.

A Salesian missionary said, “A miracle happened, because the lava flow from the nearby volcano stopped a few meters from the Don Bosco Ngangi Center. The conditions in which these children are housed are precarious. No water, no electricity, no space to play, and not enough food.”

The volcano had not erupted for more 19 years with the last eruption occurring on Jan. 17, 2002, when more than 100 people died and lava covered the entire eastern part of Goma. Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, taking refuge in Gisenyi, in neighboring Rwanda, or in Sake. According to UNICEF, the latest eruption caused the deaths of 15 people, and 159 children were still missing as of the Monday after the event.

Families are receiving help from the Salesians as many who have had their homes destroyed wait to be able to start over. Hundreds of houses and goods have been reduced to ash, and many families lost the few possessions they had.

The eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano represents yet another disaster in a region that has already faced Ebola, the COVID-19 pandemic and indiscriminate killings in Ngangi, Majengo, Turunga and Buhene. Tremors continue to frighten city dwellers, especially young children and other vulnerable people.

Faced with this new situation and need for humanitarian aid, Salesian missionaries in Goma have launched an appeal for aid to help the youth they serve and the families who have sought the Salesians for help and safety.

Despite its vast material wealth, the DRC has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line living on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. More than 4.1 million Congolese are now displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.

Salesian missionaries have been working in the DRC for more than 100 years ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten. Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youth the opportunity for a stable and productive future.

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Democratic Republic of Congo – SOS for eruption of Nyiragongo volcano in Goma

ANS – Democratic Republic of Congo – After volcano eruption, total evacuation of several Goma districts ordered

Salesian Missions – Democratic Republic of the Congo

UNICEF – DR Congo