I Am a Kidogo, What Do You Think of Me?

7/20/2011 05:41:00 AM sendtheroths 2 Comments

Kidogo is the Swahili word for small. They also use this word to refer to child soldiers… a small fighter. Recently we visited Masisi zone in North Kivu, DR Congo. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again, Masisi zone has seen some of the worst crimes against humanity as a result of the warring and violence that has plagued northeast, DRC. In some areas entire villages have been burned and abandoned, the only memory of a village being small overgrown footpaths leading to fallow ground where at one time prosperous fields used to grow.

Masisi: With the blessing comes a curse
By just stopping and looking you wouldn’t know that Masisi has been plagued with war. It looks like the land flowing with milk and honey (gold, diamonds and other precious minerals too…) Also, you wouldn’t know it by the New York Times articles or CNN, but the Congolese are very peaceful people. But the vast majority have been caught helplessly in the cross-fire of political agendas and overall greed. The Congolese have been forced to be survivors: run faster, be more clever, outwit, out smart, outlast the other person.  

Children have been the hardest hit by the instability in Masisi. Many children have been forced into prostitution, forced labor and recruitment as child soldiers; in many cases, all of the above. These kidogos (child fighters) have been forced to fight in a war that is not theirs: the abuse and neglect is incomprehensible and unimaginable.

Visiting the least of these
While in Masisi we visited a church with nearly everyone either a child soldier or pygmy. (These are the downcast and least of society.) We encouraged them with the word of God. They were open, receptive and enjoyed our encouraging words and prayers for blessing over them. After, we had a question and answer session.

After fielding several questions, there was one 11-year-old boy that came forward with boldness, though he was apprehensive and timid. He came forward and asked a pointblank question, “I am kidogo (child soldier) what do you think of me?”

The desperation in his voice was apparent. His boldness in speaking was diabolically opposed to his body gestures and demeanor. Rephrased, he was saying, “Society looks down on me, I don’t have any skills, you said you are coming to help in the future, but what are you going to do for me now? I have needs, how will you help  me?”

Answering the difficult questions
How do we answer such a question? We can’t just give him money, that will be more harm than good. We can’t whimsically start a sustainable project teaching hand crafts and a trade, that takes much planning. We can’t go through an intensive psychological rehabilitation process, we are not there long enough. We can’t send him somewhere, what about all the other demobilized child soldiers?

What are we to do? We answered and said, we were there to assess the situation and to see how we might do projects in January when we move full-time. But Amethyst did something that made up for our lack of being able to give anything tangible or material.

You are a child marked with a plan and a purpose
Amethyst called the young child back to stand in front of us. She proceeded to say, “You asked what we think of you… When I look at you, when I see you, I don’t see a kidogo, I don’t see you as a demobilized child soldier. I see you as a redeemed child of God, marked for a purpose, not hindered by the past. I see you through the eyes of Christ which says that you are marked for a purpose, with a plan and a future.”

The child smiled and hesitated, seeing if Amethyst was telling the truth or just talking polite. Then she looked the child in the eyes to confirm any doubts. She said, “Many NGOs come but they don’t come with the love of God. We are different, though we can’t offer you anything now, we come with the power of prayer and belief that God can meet all your needs.” Continuing to look him in the eyes she said, “I see you as someone who can make a difference in this nation. Those who have overcome the most, are set a part for a purpose, to make a great change. To those who have been given much, much is required.” In other words she was saying, you have experienced many things and because of it you are in a better position to reach this nation and make a positive change.

The child looked at her smiled and walked back to his place where he was standing. He understood what Amethyst had said though disappointed he would not receive anything that day, he took consolation in that God is a good God and was happy to see that people cared and were thinking of him.

How will you join us in reaching these child soldiers?
Please join us in lifting up these child soldiers. If you feel lead, click on the photos and print them out. Pray for them that the Lord would meet their needs. Pray that God would give us the resources (man power, materials, finances, etc.) to make a positive and sustainable impact. So far we have identified over 400 demobilized child soldiers within 20 miles of Masisi Village center and that was without hardly trying. They came to us! We need your prayers on what to do, how to do it, where to start, how many children can we manage, how to manage them, the questions go on and on…

We know God spoke to us and said that He will give us child soldiers and that together we will see a positive change for Congo, using these children. We know God’s promises and sure but this is far bigger than ourselves. Any prayer is beneficial prayer. Any help is much appreciated in any way possible.

How might you help make a difference?