At the beginning of each month, I'm going to introduce you to a very special family or organization. I want you to hear their story and their heart for vulnerable and orphaned children around the globe.
My hope is that you either learn something new about adoption, connect personally with one of these families or organizations, or perhaps start your own journey to adopt!
I've been supporting a different family/organization for the past ten months with my Rodan + Fields business and while I've shared a little bit of their stories on Facebook and Instagram each month, I really wanted to use this blog to provide a platform with which they could tell their story at a deeper level. As you well know, stories and experiences are TRULY what connect us.
This month, I'm so excited to be highlighting, The Story Changers Congo, an organization with the mission to empower orphans and vulnerable children throughout Africa. I LOVE their three-prong approach of Restoring, Empowering, and Equipping; founded in the belief that transformation is a life-long process. Story Changers is committed to investing in the lives of vulnerable children into adulthood. I asked Andrea Stewart, one of the program directors, to provide some insight into the heart of The Story Changers.
1. Why Congo? What are the needs?
The needs in the DRC are so vast and so wide. The wounds of decades of war run deep in the culture and people. The needs range from food and money, to medical aid, education, and skill and trade training.
2. How does The Story Changers meet those needs?
The Story Changers Congo has partnered with an Orphanage to help triage and meet immediate needs of medical care, proper diet and nutrition, trauma relief and counseling to the children. We also work closely with our in-country director to promote family reunification and offer skill training at local centers specializing in sewing, English, French, and Computer skills.
Our goal is to help reach the vulnerable families that are at-risk of having to abandon their children for poverty reasons alone. We plan to launch a community center to offer nutritional food support, tutoring, and daily spiritual discipleship to vulnerable and at-risk children in the commune. Our mission is to empower and equip the next generation of Congolese citizens to help break the cycles of extreme poverty.
3. Can you share a few stories of your experience while in the DRC with Story Changers?
When my husband Chris went over to the orphanage for the first time, he was doing medical assessments on the children and came across a young boy named Poma. He was so weak and sick as well as having a huge infected abscess on his knee. He could not even stand up to be weighed and was burning up with fever. When asked how long Poma had been like this the director just cried and said with tears running down her face that it had been weeks and there was no money for him to be treated.
Immediately, Chris said they needed to take him to the hospital. Another young boy in the orphanage, Moses, who was not much bigger than Poma, picked him up and began to walk all the way to the hospital. My husband and our in-country director followed and watched in awe at the Moses's love for his friend. He refused to leave the hospital and stayed with him all day.
Poma was released 3 days later and walked hand in hand with Moses back to the Orphanage. Poma was treated for malaria, infected abscess, and typhoid. He is doing well and all smiles these days. His laugh is infectious and we get so excited to see the smiles on his face in every update photo. We see such potential in these children. Moses is a natural leader and wants to be a doctor one day. We want to encourage him to pursue that dream.
Another amazing thing is... After 2 months of balanced nutritious meals 3 times a day, the children have collectively gained 43lbs! We have trained the caretakers on the importance in balanced nutrition and also now provide daily plant-based nutrition and supplement of Moringa to every child. We are seeing their bodies flourish and have seen some amazing testimonies of growth and development.
One little boy, Joshua, was brought to my attention with broken, dry, hair that was very patchy, eyes that were swollen and puffy, and feet that were suffering with such bad edema that he couldn't put shoes on. We took him to the hospital and he was also treated for malaria, but we were told the main problem was severe malnutrition. We started him on Moringa every day, along with the 3 meals a day and lots of fresh water, and he is doing AMAZING!!! His face is changed and he looks like a whole new boy. He is so happy and now his feet are down in size and he is even able to run and kick a soccer ball. We have been so blessed by our donors and sponsors who provide us with the nutrition these children need.
4. How can people pray for The Story Changers Congo?
- We need support and prayer over the birth and launch of a community center in the next 3-6 months as well as continued support and prayer over the Orphanage in which we work.
- Prayer for the kids as they transition into our new facility that has been purchased so they no longer have to be mandated by a landlord. Improvements can now be made and a well can be put in for a convenient safe water source.
- Prayer for God's hand of blessing and protection over everyone in-country who is a part of The Story Changers.
- All in all, pray that God would move in a mighty way to heal the emotional and physical wounds in the hearts and lives of the children we serve.
5. How can people partner with The Story Changers Congo?
- There are many ways to get involved with The Story Changers Congo. We are looking for individuals to sponsor the children we serve. You can go to www.thestorychangerscongo.org and click sponsor a child.
- We also are in need of general donations, there is a link on the website for that, as well. General Donations go toward the difference in the $35.00 a month that is paid by sponsors and the actual cost of all the things provided for the kids. It costs The Story Changers $56.00 a month for each child; to offer them water, beds, mosquito nets, 3 nutritious meals a day, daily moringa supplements, medical care, clothing, shoes, spiritual discipleship, and tutoring.
- You can also help by advocating and spreading the word. Like us on Face Book and share our mission with your family and friends.
For the month of July, 20% of the profits from any of my new or returning Rodan + Fields customers will go to this amazing organization that is digging in for the long-term and caring for children in the DRC. If you are interested in finding out more about R+F skin care products (for anti-aging, sun damage, acne or sensitive skin), please email me at leslieharris77(at)gmail(dot)com.
If you have further questions about how you can partner with The Story Changers Congo, please contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.