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Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Children in the DRC grow up in one of the world's most dangerous countries. Ongoing conflict means many are recruited as child soldiers, healthcare is appalling, and nearly a fifth die before reaching the age of 5. We provide a safe, loving family home for the most vulnerable in Kinshasa, Uvira and Bukavu. … more about our charity work in Democratic Republic of the Congo

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Emmanuel hangs the star he's made on the Christmas tree
Emmanuel hangs the star he's made on the Christmas tree

Preparations for Christmas are well underway at our three Children’s Villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All the SOS families in Bukavu, Uvira and Kinshasa are enthusiastically getting ready to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.

Christmas is an important date for the Christian population in the DRC. Celebrations begin when the children put up traditional Christmas decorations and end with a big feast with lots of dancing.

At our Village in Bukavu preparations for Christmas started over two weeks ago when the children spent a day making their own special decorations to hang in their family homes.

Preparing for the big day

‘We made decorations out of paper to hang on the Christmas tree and make a manger from cardboard,” says Emmanuel. The Christmas tree is the focal point of each family home at Christmas and is decorated with garlands, lights, tinsel and colourful ribbons as well as the paper stars and other shapes made by the children.

The SOS mothers have been busy too, buying presents and preparing food for the big day. Faida Zahinda, the SOS mother of house number two in Bukavu explains that the meal on Christmas day is made up of various dishes including meat, chicken, fresh fish, fried potatoes, plantain, groundnuts, rice, cassava, vegetables and sweets! Jacqueline Katembera, another SOS mum, says that preparations began several weeks ago. “The children made their lists at the beginning of December and ever since then by spare time has been taken up buying dolls, clothes, shoes, sweets and balloons.”

With only a few days left before the big day, every family is busy rehearsing a song, dance or play to perform for the whole Village on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is when the celebrations really begin in the DRC as Jesus is thought to have been born at midnight. All the children and mothers gather together with the Village Director to watch the performances, play games and sing songs. “Everyone stays up really late and we have a lot of fun!” says eight-year-old Salomon.

Boys from CV Bukavu making Christmas decorations
Making Christmas decorations is one of the highlights of the Christmas period

An etxra-special Christmas

This year, something extra special is happening on Christmas day - Ruth, a former SOS child who now lives in Belgium, is visiting the Village with her own children. Everyone, especially Faida Zahinda, her SOS mother is looking forward to it. “I am so excited,” she beams. “I am making some doughnuts and waffles the night before as a surprise.”

After going to church in the morning, lunch will be served. This year there are going to be lots of extra guests as people from the local community have been invited to join the festivities, so each house is organising a buffet-style meal so that people can go in and out of every house and eat as they like. “I can’t wait to see all the different dishes,” says Emmanuel excitedly. “I’m going to eat like a king!” “It’s a lot of work for us though,” laugh Faida and Jacqueline. “We’re going to have to get up at the crack of dawn to get all the food ready!” But they don’t mind too much, they know their they will get to relax the next day.

We’ve been working in the DRC since the 1980s, giving a loving home to children with no-one and supporting local families who are affected by poverty, unemployment and ill-health. Help us continue our work in the DRC and donate to us today.

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