Emmanuel* lives just outside the community of Dungu, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These days, Dungu doesn’t experience much LRA violence but between 2008 and 2010, the LRA was pretty active there. According to our Crisis Tracker, the LRA killed at least 177 people and abducted 146 more during those three years alone.
While Dungu and other nearby communities no longer face the daily threat of LRA violence, most people remember those years when the LRA was a daily worry. Many people experienced attacks, had loved ones killed or abducted by the LRA, or even experienced abduction themselves. Emmanuel is no exception.
One day when he was hunting, Emmanuel met a young boy, alone in the forest.
Two years earlier, at the age of seven, the boy had been abducted by a group of LRA fighters along with his mother, father, and sister. Shortly after they were abducted, the boy watched as the rest of his family was killed. But he remained in captivity, beaten and forced to carry heavy loads for his captors. Finally, he found the courage and the right opportunity to escape. Then he wandered alone in the forest until the day that he met Emmanuel.
Emmanuel knew instantly that he had to help the boy. He thought about his past experiences with the LRA, how he and his family had been impacted. Knowing that the boy had no family and nowhere to go, Emmanuel brought the boy home with him.
For the next two years, Emmanuel cared for the boy like his own son. The boy slept in his home and ate with him. The boy and his children played together. He taught the boy what he knew about hunting. It wasn’t easy, but Emmanuel and his family made sacrifices to help the boy with the hope that, if it were them, someone would be there to do the same.
Earlier this year, Emmanuel came to the realization that he and his family could no longer care for the boy. He knew the boy deserved to go to school, but Emmanuel’s family couldn’t afford the fees for another child. Emmanuel had heard about Invisible Children and our work, in partnership with other local organizations, to help children who have escaped LRA captivity. So, a few months ago, he brought the boy to our office in Dungu so that he wouldn’t be left alone.
Even though he is no longer staying with Emmanuel, the boy continues to benefit from Emmanuel’s compassion and generosity. For two years, Emmanuel and his family were able to provide the boy with a loving home and help him recover from his experiences in LRA captivity. Today, a new host family, trained and equipped by Invisible Children staff, continues to care for the boy and help him learn to cope with the trauma he has faced.
All across central Africa, there are courageous people like Emmanuel and his family who are ready to make sacrifices for their neighbors in times of need. Even though they didn’t have much, Emmanuel and his family were able to provide a safe and loving home to a young boy who had experienced tremendous pain and loss.
With your support this #GivingTuesday, we are able to help people like Emmanuel and others who volunteer to care for children returning from LRA captivity. Together, we can stop the LRA and help those impacted by violence heal.
When you give now through #GivingTuesday, your donation will be doubled by a generous donor until we reach $10,000.
*Emmanuel’s name has been changed to protect his identity.