Outreach and support comes from an Anglican mission team, led by Reverend Desire Mukanirva to the Mubambiro village camp, about 28km from Goma town. The team are bringing hope and healing to a displaced and frightened community.
Already marginalised, the Pygmies have been forced to leave their homes as the conflict continues in eastern Congo. With many of the community killed and injured, and increasing numbers of women, girls and the elderly vulnerable to rape, the community have fled from their forest settlement.
The Anglican mission team have developed different activities to reach out to the group. The Pamela Centre, funded by the St Mark Anglican Church of Australia, educates nursery preschool Pygmy children, many of whom are orphans.
Women are still one of the most affected of this group; many of them were victim to sexual assaults and rape. Providing healthcare and psychological support, the church has assisted these women and helped to reintegrate then into their families. Traditionally women have been severely punished for pregnancies outside of marriage.
Originally situated in the equatorial forest of the Kivu region, in the eastern part of DRC, the Pygmies’ main activities were hunting, fishing and picking fruit.
Forced to leave their traditional homes as a result of the conflict, they are now concentrated in arid villages with sparse supplies of food and other resources, and are unable to preserve their traditional way of life. This has increased their level of poverty as they are unable to gather food and are often too weak to work.
The Church is continuing to provide the Pygmies with health and educational support, as well as spiritual, physical and psychological empowerment to overcome their marginalised position.
Prayerful support and Church unity has enabled the mission team to reach out and help to reduce the vulnerability of this population.