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Philip & Nancy Wood

The peace and quiet of rural Nyankunde, DR Congo, a village of about 17,000 in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains was shattered at 9am on September 5th, 2002 when possibly as many as 5000 Wangiti tribesmen began their well-planned attack. It is estimated that within an hour they may have killed as many as 1500 - 2000 people and begun the systematic looting of every building in the medical complex and village. Everything was ransacked, devastated and decimated.

Only the brick shells of buildings remain to show how this previously 250 bed facility provided sophisticated teaching, medical care and spiritual help from 1950 until 2002. The mud-walled houses of the village were demolished or burnt and the whole community flattened. We are deeply saddened to remember those who lost their lives 2 years ago and deeply saddened to think that much needed medical care is no longer being given.

However, the medical centre is much more than bricks and mortar. About 20 of the well-trained Congolese personnel lost their lives and about 300 others that made the Centre Medical Evangelique what it was have been scattered to a number of surrounding centres.

CME Nyankunde continues its work in Beni, Oicha, Bunia and Aru. Since the 1st April 2004 a small health clinic has reopened at Nyankunde to serve the 7000 people of the Bira tribe who have returned to the village and to their daily toil of hoeing the relatively fertile ground. Among them are some pastors and evangelists and youth workers so that spiritual work has resumed from the beginning of the regrowth.

The largest of the displaced CME Nyankunde facilities is in Beni, some 200km south of Nyankunde where 2 large warehouses have been rented and turned into a small hospital. The diploma level nursing school with parallel courses in Laboratory medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry is also in exile in Beni. The university level nursing school with 125 students is at present in Oicha but has plans to move back to Ituri province, relocating in the city of Bunia next year. In Bunia, the Nyankunde polyclinic de contact that opened in May 2002 has expanded into a former hotel to include an operating room, intensive care and several rooms for hospitalization. The Nyankunde eye clinic is now further north at Aru.

"Our priority is people and teaching" says Undehoso, the head of the university level training school. He is learning to function with a necessary minimum of "things".

The direction of the Nyankunde medical centre is to be congratulated on the priority placed on higher education in years gone by, so that today there is a band of well trained spiritual leaders who are carrying on the work in new geographical areas. Most of them are working for a smaller salary than they received at Nyankunde and all are living in less commodious housing. Some are still living in a tarpaulin-roofed displaced people's camp.

The political situation in N.E. Congo is being stablized by 4,500 UN troops in Bunia but armed robbery is rife in the surrounding areas. However, visitors are very welcome and are a great encouragement to the church especially if they are able to give a module of teaching in one of the training schools, Bible Colleges or the Bunia seminary.

We need to pray fervently for the ongoing stability of the whole country. One of the former rebel leaders who was made a vice president of the country has resigned from the transitional government.

It is uncertain whether Nyankunde will ever be rebuilt to function as it did but its work continues in a decentralized fashion. Pray for the finances to run this extensive medical work, in a time of war when personal finances are very limited and when CME receives no help from the government.  Please pray for peace in the country and safety for the Congolese and expatriate staff working at the Nyankunde centres.  Visit the “Friends of Nyankunde” web site and drop us a note if you would like to be an encouragement.