Nkombo Island – looking for the positives

I am a day behind again with my blogs! Too much going on! This is Tuesday’s blog.

Most of our fundraising back home was directed to buying water filters for Nkombo Island so it was good to be able to go there and find out more about the local people we would be helping.

After a most pleasant 40  minute boat journey on lake Kivu, we arrived at a landing spot leading us to a

Children enjoying their drink

Children enjoying their drink

steep path to the centre of the village. Walking 800 metres up a steep incline, in the heat and at an altitude of 5000 ft, believe me, was quite demanding! We were accompanied by Bertha an Anglican pastor who has been a kind of mentor to us here.  The government administrator walked with us to the church where 600 children were seated waiting to welcome us. These were undernourished children who were part of the Nutrition programme run by the Anglican Church.  It was very hot. They were hungry. So we decided to limit the formal welcome and went with them directly to the feeding centre. How patient these little children are!

Presenting family filters to the local pastor

Presenting family filters to the local pastor. 

It seemed an age before they got their mug of nutritious porridge. We learned that they had been selected by a rigorous process for the island has simply hundreds and hundreds of poor children – but we thought that most of the children would be me,fit from this programme.

Overpopulation – about 18000 – and lack of acceptance of family planning (and to some extent polygamy) add to the general levels of poverty. Many women have to go to the mainland to earn money for the family, leaving the children to look after each other for hours on end. Although close to the mainland, the island is isolated. They even have their own language! The lake water is polluted from effluent and flotsam from DRC, so there is a real need for water filters, and we were glad we had focused our efforts here. The local authority and the Anglican Church have planned well together to ensure that filters are distributed well.

Helping to feed the children - this is only a fraction of all those present

Helping to feed the children – this is only a fraction of all those present

At one level, a lot of what we heard and saw was quite depressing. There seemed to be a self- generating cycle of deprivation which was difficult to halt. But, actually, there is a very positive side to what we saw. The church has taken the initiative. In the last two years, a new church has been established; a Health Clinic set up; and there is evidence that the nutrition project, started by the Bishop’s wife, is making a big difference. All of this with the blessing and support of the local administration.

We ended our visit with a delicious lunch at the pastor’s house. Afterwards, we had a little ceremony to present them with some family filters.

We came back ‘home’ emotionally drained!

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