Saturday, June 3, 2017

Our Orphanage Was Flooded Again – And once again, we were needed!

On our 2nd mission, we were very involved with the Kaka Orphanage here in Kinshasa.  Due to severe flooding, when it rained hard, Ed dedicated the last 2 months of his mission to rebuilding the orphanage.  He built a wonderful wall to block the flooding in the future, and it has held beautifully. 
(These are photos of the wall he built in 2014.)

However, while we were in the United States last month, a few weeks ago the creek, next to the orphanage, was so full that it ripped down a section of the old wall, that wasn’t even along the creek bed.  At 2:00 in the morning, while it was pitch dark, the wall broke and the water came rushing and swirling into the orphanage yard, and then into the children’s rooms, which are 2’ below the rest of the yard.  The water was so forceful that they couldn’t open the door to get out of the bedroom.  19 children and 1 adult were trapped.  The children were kneeling on their bunks, trying to keep their heads above the water, screaming and crying for help. The one adult was moving from one bed to another, to help the children, as the water was up to her neck.   A neighbor (a good Christian man) heard them and got through the water in the yard, with something heavy enough that he could smash a hole high up in the exterior wall.  The 1 adult handed the children out to him, one at a time, as they were rescued at the last minute.  (The rescue hole is the one up high, to the left of the word "Centre".)
When we returned from the United States, we were told about the disaster by Elder and Sister Romney, the other missionary couple who live in our apartment building. (They had emailed us about it, but had sent it to our temple job email, which we didn’t have access to while we were gone.)   When the flood happened, Philomene called the number that she usually calls to get ahold of me.  Our interpreter answered, and he understood the gravity of the situation.  He told the Romneys what had happened.  They immediately got men from our jobsite, and drove out to the orphanage to help pump out the water and start cleaning up the mess.  The children were moved to the school rooms to sleep for the following couple of weeks.  (This is 15 year old Dorothea.  We have loved her for 4 years.  She was the 2nd oldest in the bedrooms when this flood happened.  You can see where the waterline was, above her eye level.)

When the director of the orphanage was telling me of the terror, I cried and cried and cried… as she cried with me… and we held each other tightly.  We both realized how fatal the flood could have been.  We know that they were greatly blessed that night. 

The Romneys were fantastic!  They said they were glad that we weren’t there, so they could have the blessing of helping and coordinating this project.  They are the Public Affairs missionary couple, and rarely leave their desks.  By the time we returned to Kinshasa, they had spoken with our humanitarian missionary couple, and found a contractor to start building the wall that had collapsed.  The urgency was to get it built before another rain storm.  They were all relieved when Ed showed up, as he could monitor the work and make sure that it tied in with the existing wall, and would be built strong enough to withhold future floods. 
The new wall is completed.  Things are getting back to normal.  The Romneys arranged for new mattresses and sheets for all the beds.  The children were so thrilled with the sheets that they took them off the beds at night, and folded them up for under their heads.  They said they didn’t want the sheets to get dirty. 

I am continually amazed at life in the Congo.   We are grateful for the good neighbor that saved the children’s lives.   We are thankful for the Romneys and the others who helped Philomene and the orphanage.  We are thankful we returned when we did so that Ed could help get the wall built better and stronger.  The list of things we are thankful for is endless.  We are thankful we are where we need to be, at this season of our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So glad you guys got back there to help out!!