A Healthy Change in Kenge


On our recent trip to Congo, we visited a community called Kenge, halfway between Kikwit and Kinshasa. Like many other communities in this area, the people of Kenge lacked access to adequate health care. The closest hospital was too far away and too expensive, leaving the people vulnerable to diarrhea, malaria, anemia, malnutrition, and respiratory infections.

However, when we arrived in the town, we were greeted warmly by a small group of people from a local church. They had heard that we were coming, so they prepared a little table of peanuts and bananas for us. As we gathered with them under a tree, they told us a beautiful story about how 5N2 was helping to improve health care in Kenge.

Ten months earlier, the group had received 5N2 training from one of our partners. In response to the training, they had recognized their key assets, thanked God for his provision, and begun to envision possible development outcomes. They started with what was in their hands and they simply focused on the most accessible outcomes—what we like to call, the low-hanging fruit.

Their first initiative had been to collect a few Congolese Francs for a church maintenance project of mostly painting, fixing up the instruments and planning a future roof renovation. Then, bolstered by their progress, they were ready for more.

Next, as they surveyed their church family, they noticed that, among a group of mostly subsistence farmers, there were also four men who were trained nurses.

One of those nurses, a man named Seyakuaku, actually had a small collection of medical supplies that he had picked up from previous locations where he had worked. He had stethoscopes and other medical instruments, including a microscope.

Encouraged by these assets, the group in Kenge had then turned to a small hut near their church building that was being used as a guesthouse, which they decided to fix up and turn into a medical clinic.

As we listened to their story, we thought about countless community health clinics in Congo that had started strong with outside help, but quickly fizzled out when the funding faded and they lacked supplies, medicine, and local resources.

It was different in Kenge. Their story told about how a whole community had intervened and together they had established this humble yet functional health clinic. They had a revolving supply of medicine and trained nurses that provided 24-hour care, which enabled them to effectively treat water-borne diseases and other common illnesses. The Kenge clinic even had a small solar panel, wired to a battery, which powered both their microscope and their computer.

As we listened to their story under that tree in Kenge, we were so touched by the passion and vision that we heard within them. They spoke with such a deep sense of community pride. The clinic belonged to them. They had merely started with what was in their hands, offering it with thanks to God and then seeing it multiplied for the good of their community.

As we prepared to leave Kenge that day, the community was telling us that they had already marked out another piece of land where they hope to upgrade the facility. They talked about providing more services and reaching people in neighbouring villages.

And so the fruit of this training continues to grow.