About 2 months ago we started working with a new orphanage in the middle of DRC. We were connected to this orphanage through our attorney who was connected to them through mutual acquaintances. We were well aware that the situation at the orphanage was more extreme than orphanages you typically see in Kinshasa due to a more significant lack of access to needed resources - food, water, and medicine. Children at the orphanage generally come into care even more malnourished and unhealthy than usually seen in Kinshasa. After many conversations with the orphanage directors and our attorney, we moved forward with placing 7 truly orphaned children for adoption and provided some humanitarian aid for the other children to help improve the level of care they were receiving (such as more food with higher amounts of protein, cleaning supplies, and clothes/shoes). About a month ago, we received word that 2 children died, possibly from dysentery. We offered to cover medical expenses for any children that were ill and the 5 children that were sick received antibiotics and recovered. About a week and a half ago we were told that the dysentery may be turning into an epidemic.
5 days later 31 of the 52 children at the orphanage had died.
Dysentery is a microbial infection of the intestine most commonly caused by unclean water.
Based on the speed and intensity, we believe the dysentery at the orphanage and affecting the entire city is caused by bacteria in the water source which was ingested by the children. Once a child consumed the contaminated water, they because ill with high fevers and violent, severe bloody diarrhea, and died within 3 days from severe dehydration and blood loss.
Three people immediately flew to the orphanage from Kinshasa to help and we wired money to buy as much medicine and supplies as needed, but so many of the children were already malnourished and the bacteria was so fast-acting, that 31 children died. The 21 remaining children were able to receive antibiotics in time, their infection responded to them and have survived - without which all of the children would have most likely passed away.
It is heartbreaking to know these children died without a family. They laid sick and dying for days without a Mama or a Papa to hold them and help them. They had loving orphanage staff that were trying with all they had to help the children, but it's not the same. It is a tragedy that shouldn't have to happen.
We grieve the loss of these children. Our thoughts are prayers are with the surviving children (some of which lost their siblings), the orphanage staff, and the adoptive families who were so anxiously looking forward to holding and caring for these children.
These are the faces of some of the sweet children who are now in heaven:
We take clean water for granted and it doesn't even cross our minds that a drink of water could kill our children. This is a threat to human life that doesn't have to exist. We are working to determine ways to help the epidemic in the middle of Congo. The solution is complicated because the only way to get to this area of the country is by plane - and at that, only a very unreliable domestic airline flies there (an airline with multiple crashes a year - one in this city in January of this year). Additionally, cell phone service - the only means of communication - is hit or miss. We are working with locals to determine the best sustainable solutions and need their guidance to determine feasible solutions.
If you can help, we are looking for the following:
- Individuals that have direct contacts in the Kasai Oriental province of DR Congo
- Water purification technologies that are portable
- Funding to buy water purification technology and to transport it to the orphanage
If you can help, please comment here or email ABI at email@example.com.