January is Butoke month
No matter how you view it, life in Butoke has been a
challenge for anyone living in
that oft-forgotten country during
the last six months.
On a personal level, Dr. Cecille
de Sweemer, MPC-member
who (with Co-director Dr.0
Jean Lumbala) directs the various
activities at Butoke, has
suffered an exacerbation of
symptoms from her Parkinson’s
disease. It is largely because
somehow her medication became
unavailable. So for no
good reason, Cecile has felt the
sharp edge of untreated pain that she never should
have experienced. I am happy to report that the drug
supply problem is now in the past, and Cecile soldiers
on as always, caring for the young orphans who continue
to show up at Butoke’s door.
For Butoke’s staff and clients, this has been a time
of fear as several of the numerous para-military
groups fought battles and disrupted life in the region.
It’s hard to keep the kids focused on today’s lessons
when bullets are flying overhead. Consequently,
Butoke had been forced to close the school for an extended
period of time, and most clients and staff were
moved into Kinshasa (Congo’s capital and the closest
city to Butoke). Even Cecile finally was evacuated for a time.
What are the factors that seem to keep Congo down?
There are lots that lead to repeated failure. Regardless
of who’s in charge, all have failed to enable Congo to
develop a class of leaders who would teach the Congolese
the principals of civil society, to value life, enforce justice, etc.
The role of Butoke is clear: it is the one place where
individuals are treated with dignity and respect,
where orphans are fed, and where they can learn
without interference. As a church supporter of Butoke,
it is up to us to support the courage and generosity of
those who labor to provide care. Aside from MPC,
Butoke has a few other supporters…a handful of other
congregations, a Canadian non-profit, and Friends of
Butoke, a Delaware-based non-profit that exclusively
supports Butoke and the other donor organizations.
Donations to Butoke: simply pick up an envelope in a
pew and write your check.
By Tom Koch