Congo + COVID-19.

Posted by Tom Scatliff, With 0 Comments, Category: Newsletters,
This time last year we were in Congo. No one could have imaged what the world would look like just a year later, but what you can imagine is the hardships faced by so many of our beloved Congolese… And now, they are also facing COVID-19.

In late January, to help combat the rampant malnutrition in the area, we launched a neighborhood feeding program at the MissionGO mission station in Impfondo, Congo. Local families with children showing signs of malnutrition are invited to participate in this daily feeding program, which not only consists of nourishment for children, but also daily lessons in nutrition, health, cooking, and gardening for parents. The main focus is on locally available foods and introduction of nutritious new foods that grow readily in the area, but aren’t traditionally part of their (limited) diet. For example, powerfully nutritious Chaya leaves (for anyone who remembers the resounding negative response we received when we tried Chaya in the hospital feeding program, you’d be interested to know we received a much more positive response to it here!). We’ve been offering cuttings of Chaya trees to families in the program with simple instructions of how to plant, tend, and harvest it. Ideally, the neighborhood nutrition program will not only boost nutritional status of the children in the short term, but build up their families with knowledge and know-how to continue combatting malnutrition on the home front in the long term.
Feeding program on the missionaries' front steps.
As COVID-19 has made its way to Africa, it has had an impact on ministries (to read a doctor’s perspective on the virus’ impact on Africa, see this document, https://www.newsightcongo.com/a-doctors-thoughts/, penned by my friend in Ouesso, Congo). The hospital’s chapel and church services are now hosted over the air at the hospital’s Christian radio station (the one Tom was working to improve this time last year). Our neighborhood feeding program, which started with just nine children but now hosts a few dozen children and their families, is also impacted. We are needing to alter the program so families arrive in shifts rather than as a group. Additionally, the Congolese government’s restrictions on movement within the country, to help quarantine COVID-19, will impact food supplies and undoubtably result in food shortages. The Lord was already working out the details as to how we would be able to keep supplying these vulnerable children with food during this time.

When I was at the ECHO farm conference in Florida this past fall, I was able to obtain various high quality heirloom seeds ideal for growing in Congo. I sent these seeds to my colleague Jesse Mitchell, who serves on the ground in Congo full time. While Jesse waited for the seeds to arrive, he worked with local teenage boys to prep raised garden beds and reinforce the fence (to keep out those pesky goats!). After the seeds arrived, they sprouted just a few days after planting and now, just a few weeks later, the vegetables are being harvested and fed to the children. Families of the neighborhood feeding program are also witnessing the importance of a local garden during such unpredictable and challenging times. It is our dream to share seeds with the families involved in the program and continue to promote food security for all. Below is a photo of the garden, and a link to a video tour for those who are interested!
Photo and video of Jesse's garden.
Although COVID-19 is a challenge for all of us, I encourage you to look at how God provides. Please write to us and let us know how you are doing during this time. How can we be praying for you? And be sure to let us know how God has provided in advance to sustain you during this time!

We thank you for your sacrifices so we can serve in missions together. The world urgently needs God’s Word.

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