A letter from Nancy Dimmock in Lesotho
March 8, 2011
Today, the centenary anniversary of International Women’s Day, I find myself reflecting on the first two months of this year. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) is doing a special on Extreme Worlds entitled “The Best and Worst Places in the World to be a Woman.” Among the list of worst places is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where soldiers — and men in general — rape with impunity. I (Frank) am just back from a trip which included the DRC, where I participated in a workshop on trauma healing, facilitated by Ugandans who shared their first-hand experiences. I must admit, that after hearing all of the tragic and desperate stories of women and children, I was traumatized myself.
My first morning in Kinshasa, I met an 11-year-old orphaned girl who lives with her widowed grandmother. In January she was sent to buy bread one afternoon and didn’t return home. She had been dragged into an abandoned building and brutally raped. She was found later in the evening by her teenage brother. Though she has been physically repaired, her spirit remains battered, and she is now ashamed to face her friends and return to school.
I listened to story after similar story, and my heart was literally torn open. Oh, God. Look down on your world with mercy — and teach us how to be merciful.
Signs of hope
In Mbujimayi, central DRC, the Presbyterian Church operates a “safe house” for young girls who are on-the-street, often escaping abusive situations. This program, Foyer wa Dibindi, provides temporary safety while family reunification is researched. The girls are clothed, fed and attend a local school.
From Congo, I flew to western Ethiopia, where the Gambella Synods of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) are providing early childhood education and development to preschool children from vulnerable families. The goal of the program is to reach children early (and through them, their families) with basic education and health interventions – providing a “head-start”.
And finally I traveled to Ghana for the biennial conference of Christian Health Associations in Africa. The theme of the conference, bringing together 20 countries, was on improving women’s and children’s health in Africa. I have been working with a Presbyterian partner, IMA-World Health, to re-establish the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHALi), following many years of civil war. In that country one in 20 women will die during pregnancy or childbirth. CHALi has been instrumental in the training and support of birth attendants and will assist in new safe-motherhood initiatives to improve access to essential services.
Next month in Malawi I will visit with Presbyterian partners who are involved with a program to stop the practice of offering girls for marriage at a very early age. Churches there have pioneered community-based programs for support of vulnerable children and families.
For some more encouraging news, look at the BBC story about Lesotho and the gender gap.
Back home in Lesotho, Nancy is continuing to support and encourage the work of Ministry of Hope Lesotho. Besides helping with background research, medical exams and adoption paperwork on many abandoned and orphaned children, MoHL is caring for a vulnerable 8-month-old baby girl and will take on a 2½-year-old, malnourished child next week. Both are in need of nutritional rehabilitation and extra stimulation and care.
While we remain completely engaged here in Africa, we must, at the same time, turn our thoughts partially toward the United States — as we are headed on home assignment in July. We wanted you to be aware of our timing and of our availability to come and speak at your church, if you are interested. We will, once again, be living at Mission Haven in Decatur, Georgia, and will be available to speak from September 2011 through May 2012. Several weekends in October and November are already booked and one in January; otherwise, the dates are open. We will be doing our own bookings, so let us know of your interest via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Another issue in relation to our time in the United States is our need for a vehicle or two! We need both a regular sedan and a van (that seats at least seven). If any individual, family or church has an extra vehicle that we could lease, borrow or have, please let us know. We’ll come anywhere to collect it, speak about world mission if you wish, and drive it back to Georgia! Thank you!
We look forward to seeing many of you in the coming year and to sharing more stories, in person, about God’s work in the world!
|MoHL nurses working in nutrition — gardening for nutrition support of orphans.||Child accused of witchcraft working as servant in a relative’s home.|
Sincerely in Christ,
Frank and Nancy Dimmock
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 73