The leaders of the Ditekemena (Hope) program are in the process of visiting the families or relatives of the 23 children they are caring for. They want to determine what caused the child to be abandoned or to run away to the streets, and what counseling or assistance might be needed to make the family receptive to receiving their child into their home again.
Last week, Bob and Ruth joined Pastor Manyayi to visit the home of Mukendi Moise. They learned that Mukendi and his friends Masanka and Nzaji had been notorious thieves in the neighborhood. “They stole chickens from everyone!” said Pastor Kabamba, who lives nearby. “Whenever you saw Mukendi run by, you knew that something had been stolen.” They were ‘partners in crime’, and they continued to run together even when they left home and were living behind one of the outdoor markets. To get money for food, they would scrape up the crumbs from piles of dried fish, and sell it for pig food. The fish sellers didn’t like that though, and would chase them and attack them with razor blades.
When the leaders of Ditekemena came to find kids living on the streets in need of help, many of the kids ran away, afraid that they would be taken and exploited or killed. Mukendi recognized his desperation though, and went with the leaders. Within the first few weeks, he was leading a choir in the midst of these rag-tag kids who had all come from deplorable situations. Now, after nearly a year of being in a loving and safe environment, Pastor Manyayi says the transformation is incredible. “He loves to sing, and will read through the songbook for hours at a time. He could barely read before, but now he is really intent on his lessons and especially loves geography. He is really helpful and respectful, and we often find him teaching the Bible to the younger kids!”
Mukendi and his younger sister, Macqui, were living with their grandmother after their parents died. But their grandmother is very poor; her mud-brick house is tiny and doesn’t even have a door on it. “How can they live in a house that doesn’t even have a door?” questioned Pastor Manyayi to the other leaders. They decided to do a ‘test’, and Mukendi and his sister Macqui recently spent the weekend at their grandmother’s house. They said afterwards that they would like to live with their grandmother again. Please pray for the Ditekemena leaders as they seek the right solution for each of the children. Mukendi is fourteen years old now, and seems to be a humble but natural leader. When you see him, it is hard to imagine that a few years ago he was terrorizing his neighborhood. Pastor Kabamba marveled, “You have taken away our thieves and turned them into pastors!”
The testimony about the Ditekemena program is starting to spread around town. Mukendi’s neighbors asked if they could send their kids to Ditekemena when they saw the transformation that occurred! We praise God for the transformation that we see in each of the kids, and for the knowledge they now have that they are valued and loved. Thank you to many of you who have contributed to meet the expenses of caring for these kids and putting them ‘back on track’ in life. We ask for your continued prayers for the kids and for the leaders as they discern the next steps.