In the face of the COVID-19 crisis our ministry partners are continuing to show God’s love to the outcast and forgotten in their communities.
The most vulnerable like Lucia.
Lucia is currently under lockdown with her foster family just outside of Goma city in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), just as she was beginning to make her way in the world.
Lucia was born in the village of Mwenga, around 400km from Goma. When she was born deaf her parents thought that her disability was a sign that she was cursed and they abandoned her, leaving her with an elderly aunt. Her aunt looked after her for a few years until she was no longer able to support her. She knew that there were no opportunities for children with hearing impairment in the village and so they walked for over three days to Goma.
Once in Goma they discovered Ephphatha, who took Lucia in and found her a foster family. Ephphatha gave Lucia hearing tests, medical care, sign language lessons and, most importantly, shared the love of God with her and provided a community to which she belonged.
Lucia attended school at Ephphatha and midway through her final year of high school she decided to take vocational classes in sewing so she could earn a living and give back to her foster family.
Lucia excelled in her sewing classes and began working with other class members to sell their services and earn a living. They were just starting to get recognition within the hearing community and were about to move in together in a share house that would double as their workspace when COVID-19 broke out in Goma and put their plans on hold.
Thanks to Ephphatha, for the first time ever, Lucia was beginning to find acceptance and have hope for the fullness of life as God intended.
While Lucia’s story of abandonment and rejection is heartbreaking, sadly it’s a common belief that being deaf is a curse and thousands of children with hearing impairment in the DRC share similar stories.
Ephphatha has been serving and showing Jesus’ love to those with hearing impairment for years through education and vocational training, medical care and evangelism. Now with COVID-19, they are trying to ensure that those already vulnerable aren’t disadvantaged any further, and to continue shining the light of Christ into the darkness.
People with hearing impairment are facing all the hardships of lockdown in the DRC, along with the additional challenges of communication and making sure they keep up to date with regulations and risks of contamination. While Ephphatha has been forced to close the schools and limit access to their medical centre, they are doing everything they can to support the hearing-impaired community at this time.
Ephphatha has produced videos with a deaf actor and interpreter to circulate within the hearing-impaired community to raise awareness of the symptoms of COVID-19 and how to minimise risk and exposure. They are sending updates to a local church for the hearing impaired and communicating through WhatsApp, SMS and meetings that comply with the lockdown rules to keep everyone informed on the pandemic.
To protect patients coming to the medical centre, Ephphatha has increased their supply of disinfectants, personal protective equipment and purchased additional handwashing basins and thermometers.
Due to the DRC closing its borders and restricting movement between districts, medical supplies are running low and prices have skyrocketed.
Ephphatha needs funding to continue providing protection for their medical staff and the hearing impaired that come to the medical centre and to continue communicating with the hearing-impaired community so that they aren’t further disadvantaged and placed at additional risk.
In this time of suffering and great need, will you give what you can to help those who are most at risk, the outcast and forgotten?
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