For obvious reasons, in a small village without refrigeration, we buried Mama Masika at 12:30pm on February 3rd, less than 24 hours after her death. It was a hard funeral to attend. Our Un Jour Nouveau ("A New Day"... in the USA we are "Africa New Day") staff jumped to action early that morning to get everything ready and prepared for the service. Our staff caravan consisted of 2 mini buses and 3 SUV's packed with people, flowers, the coffin and food for the kids and young women left behind in Mama's center. Pastor Camille performed the ceremony and not only stressed the importance the work Masika pioneered, but the continuation of her legacy. The continuation of defending the rights of the poor, the orphaned, the abused...Working together to see real change for the lives of victims of sexual violence.
This is Michélene. I met her my first trip out there. She and I bonded very quickly by laughing at my French and then her being impressed with what little Swahili I have. She is tiny girl with a bold spirit just like Masika. Her story is incredibly sad and incredibly triumphant at the same time. That is all I will say about it protect her privacy, but you can only imagine. She is 18. She will graduate high school this May and come to Goma for University. She was with Mama when she died.
Pastor Camille, UJN security, our staff counselor- Dieudonne
and our director Marie in the head scarf.
There were over 1000 people at the funeral. The entire village came and many from much farther away made the long trip as well.
Esther with both of Masikas daughters. Sumali, our security, never far away from Esther.
After the service and burial, the children and young women were hysterical. Rightly so. We brought everyone into the house, gave out cokes and calmed them. Camille and Esther reassured them that UJN will not leave them. Our presence in Minova to continue Masikas work will continue.
Michélene with a 3 day old baby. The mother was a rape victim brought to the center during her labor. She unfortunately did not survive and leaves behind this beautiful baby, Rebecca, named after Masika.
Remember I told you about the two babies brought to the center after they were found with their mothers bodies (after two weeks). This is the little boy. Please pray for him. He is still emotionless. He does not cry. They do not have diapers, so they use cloth and stuff it into the pants. With the passing of Masika, there were no clean clothes. His pants were wet with pee. He also smelled very much like it had been that way for a while. He did not cry, he just held onto my back and stared off into the distance. This is me with Marie-Desange.
Thank you all for your e-mails and encouragement. I probably will not have time or wifi to reply to them all, but I see them and I am so thankful for you all.
We will host a memorial service for Mama Masika this Friday, at the UJN chapel here in Goma.
much love from Eastern Congo...