Superstitions breed homeless children in the Congo

By September 27, 2010

(MNN) — There's a tragic story being told over and over in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

country has been badly scarred by war, and people are superstitious. They want
explanations when things go wrong. Lorella Rouster with Every
Child Ministries
explains, "Anything bad that happens,
even if someone gets sick, even though they may understand that germs cause
disease, they might think that ‘Germs are all over, so why should I get sick
right now? Someone must have cursed me.'"

Increasing hardship means many children end up living with members of
their extended family. However, Rouster says, "There
is a really big problem in Congo right now, with children being accused of witchcraft
by their families, and children often being cast out of their families and
ending up on the streets."

say this phenomenon is unique to Congo and seems especially prevalent in poor urban
areas. Many of these children are
subject to abuse, starvation, or worse. Few can scrape enough earnings to pay for what they need.

For the past several years, Every Child Ministries
has been reaching out to street children, primarily boys, around a
market area across from the Teachers' Training University. The children had been stripped not only of family and
love, but of all human dignity and hope until the arrival of ECM workers who
began to show a personal interest in them.

Does it make a difference? "It's a living demonstration to the whole
community that shows that these children are valuable. When they succeed in life after they've been
cast out of their families–they've been roaming the streets on their own–we're
hoping that it really will cause people to think twice before they reject their
own children."

The Gospel plays a big role in their approach. Some of the staff are
holding conferences to alert families to the problem of falsely accusing
children of witchcraft. "They include things like the emphasis
on the value of children, and then show that the power of Jesus Christ is
greater than any other power. They can call on His power and His help rather
than accusing their children of witchcraft."

also works to restore families in Congo. Many of the children sponsored through Every Child Ministries
need complete care, not just extra help. "A sponsorship with
Every Child ministries costs $30 a month and provides schooling, clothing, medical
needs and spiritual counseling."

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