From the Heart

Cooking leaves for a meal.

Cooking leaves for a meal.

I have been on many mission trips over the last twenty years or so, both local & abroad, and consider myself to be a seasoned traveler.
That mindset changed for me this week during my first trip to Congo with Global Refuge International.
GRI goes to places where most NGO's don't, to reach displaced peoples who have been forgotten and left to fight for the very basic of needs.
On this trip, we visited several makeshift refugee camps scattered throughout Congo comprised of villagers who had been forced to flee their homes because of rebel fighting. Many were killed as they fled with only what they could carry with them.
Some of the refugees have been in these camps for years, while others for just months. However, they all had one thing in common—they were hungry and sick with no relief in sight!
Malnutrition, malaria and snake bites are just a few of their challenges. I have never witnessed so many needs from one people group.

I wanted to cry, I wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else, so I wouldn't have to deal with something that I had no idea how to fix. I felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness. What could I do in light of such an incredible need?

That night, I learned of a quick response plan that GRI was putting together to save the most desperate cases, the children on the verge of death from malnutrition. This will be the first of many steps by GRI to meet the many needs. This was the answer I was looking for! I could not do anything myself, but I could team up with GRI and do my part by helping them financially. This is in no way a push for financial aid to GRI, although it is desperately needed. This is my story and how I have dealt with something that has changed me. This gives me a way to help those that I saw suffering with my own eyes—those that came up to me patting their stomachs asking for food!

This has been a trip that has challenged me, changed me and shown me that I can make a difference if I am willing to get out of my comfort zone and look beyond my self-imposed limitations.

For me, traveling dozens of hours from Fort Myers, Florida to the Congo in Africa to team up with GRI was one of the best decisions I have ever made. God willing, these refugees will get the help they need thanks to the incredibly difficult work that GRI is doing in Africa. I thank God that I was blessed enough to see this work first hand and that a previously unreached people are no longer alone!

— Dave Flammia, Builders Without Borders representative

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