For over 15 years, 49-year-old Mama Bona has taken care of children separated from their families as a result of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When she cannot find a family to host unaccompanied children and orphans, they are welcome to stay at her house.
“There is much suffering in the current war. Women are raped, fathers die and children are separated, left homeless and live like vagrants. When the fighting started in 2007, a child was brought to me whose mother had been injured by a bullet in the leg. She had died after delivery. The baby was just three days old and I had no way to find baby formula, but my eldest daughter had recently delivered and she volunteered to take care of the child. She is now 18 months old. Her name is Stephanie.
As I could not afford to build an orphanage, I took to placing the children wherever I could find homes for them. If I had the space in my own house, you would find all of them here. The seven children I care for at the moment have lost their families, so we try to find them, starting with the community, the Red Cross and the ICRC. For the time being, I am their mother, their family. They only know me. If you put a child in an orphanage, he or she will feel abandoned. That is why we prefer to place them with a foster family.
Since I first started this work, I can remember many children. So far there have been 158. People bring me every unaccompanied child they come across. But it is difficult for me because I am a widow. When my husband was still alive, he would help me. Since he died, everything has become very difficult. I get no salary. I am just a volunteer. If there was no war, I would cultivate the fields and help the foster families.
God gave me this gift to help children. Everybody around here knows about Mama Bona, because it is Mama Bona who looks after the kids.”