“People pray that no more mineral deposits are discovered here. For the locals, their presence is a curse – a source of constant bloodshed in these lands,” says Sister Ania Nowakowska, who a few days ago had to evacuate from our hospital in Ntamgugenga, Dem. Rep. of Congo. It had already become very dangerous back there.
We are in Nyakinama, in the north of Rwanda, with Sister Ania. We walk around a lot, talking about the last weeks in Ntamugenga. We are flanked by a beautiful panorama of Rwandan volcanoes on the horizon. It’s hard to believe that on the other side of them, in Congo, there is a war taking place. This time it advanced right up to the walls of the hospital that the Good Factory has been running together with the Sisters of the Angels for eight years. Congolese army trucks with missile launchers stood less than 20 metres from our buildings. We are in the line of an exchange of fire between the army and the rebels who have captured the strategically important hills.
“It all became so real when one night there was a fierce exchange of fire between two groups. All around us was the shrill sound of flying bullets and explosions. There wasn’t even anywhere to run. The sisters and I sat in the corridor until morning, sheltering under mattresses. During this shelling, I thought of one thing – what would happen to the people who had taken shelter in the courtyard around our home and hospital. As it turned out later, only one of the shells penetrated the roof and flew into the patients’ room. It’s a miracle that no one was shot,” Sister Ania says in a shaky voice.
It is the third week since thousands of refugees crossed the walls of our health centre. Virtually every cm2 of its courtyard is already occupied. Those fleeing the fighting took what little they had: a sleeping mat, a pot, some beans or a goat. What is also frightening in all this is that the war broke out just as the long-awaited crops began to be harvested from the fields: maize, beans, soya beans. People’s crops have been left in their homes, which are now being plundered by the rebellion that is seizing more land. In addition, the fields are scarred with bombs and shells. – The consequence will be even more poverty and hunger in our region,” concludes Sister Ania.
“In addition to food, basic medicines are urgently needed. It is now getting cold at night, which is making the children sick. We need IVs, blood, antipyretics, cold medicines, antimalarials. After the rebellion seized 12 health centres, our hospital is the only functioning one in the area. They bring the injured to us all the time. Dr John and Dr Patient, along with part of the medical team, have stayed on site. They are working in shifts to ensure that the hospital continues to function,” the missionary reports.
This is all happening for one reason: the minerals that later serve us in our phones or tablets. It is these that this war is being fought over. So we cannot say that this problem does not concern us! Coltan, gold, diamonds – it is because of them that the richest land in the world has the poorest people.
The Good Factory has been doing its utmost to support the doctors and medical staff working on site since the first days of the fighting. It was they who were on the front line today, providing aid. At the start of the war, we replenished our supplies of blood and IVs, but these, with the ever-increasing number of people in need, are shrinking at a rapid rate. We have just delivered more medical supplies, but we still desperately need your support. It is you who give the hospital the stability that is so difficult to find in Congo right now. Every contribution you make, every IV or bag of blood, is now saving lives on the front line!