Democratic Republic of Congo – After fear of eruption of Goma's Nyiragongo volcano, recovery being planned

13 July 2021

(ANS - Goma) - Last 22 May in Goma there were dramatic moments: while the sky became strangely brighter than usual, and a strange smell spread throughout the city, people realized that the Nyiragongo volcano, after 19 years of silence, was erupting again. The Salesians from the Don Bosco Ngangi Youth Center were surprised at first, like all Goma's inhabitants, but soon took action: they began to welcome the frightened and fleeing families, ordered the evacuation of the facility themselves and the urgent transfer to Shasha. And now that they have finally been able to bring their beneficiaries home, they are organizing anew to promote the well-being of all the children and young people in their care.

For those who have lived through those moments, it is difficult to forget the fear: the lava that reaches several villages in the area at night, burns houses as it passes, destroys cultivated fields, light cables, water tanks ... And then, when four days later the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, the authorities finally give the order to evacuate 10 of the 18 neighborhoods of the city of Goma, there is also the dismay of having to leave your home without knowing when you can return and in what state you will find it.

For a week, 283 children, 187 young people and 82 adults (including 22 men and women religious) found refuge in the Salesian farm in Shasha. But even there it was not really peaceful: the rooms were not adequate to accommodate the little ones, nor were the bathrooms sufficient for many people; hygienic conditions were therefore very precarious, and they lived with the constant fear that Covid-19 could take root and spread among the displaced.

The return of the children to "Don Bosco Ngangi" took place on June 15. "Now we're in the post-evacuation phase: it's a different emergency, there's less fear, but more misery. In the streets begging children, street children, old people, mothers wander ... they're all dirty and covered in rags,” say the operators of “Missioni Don Bosco”, the Salesian Mission Office of Turin.

Even if the worst danger has passed, it is now necessary to intervene to help people find a home and dignity, children to have a safe place to wash, feed and grow. There is a need for mattresses, blankets, food, powdered milk for babies ...

Heirs of Don Bosco, the Salesians of Goma plan, build, welcome, move and act when necessary, face every adversity… All to help them, the smallest and most defenseless.

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ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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