Odyssey of a Social Justice Project Gone Wild: Cedar Lane & DR Congo

December 11, 2019
  • Annette Scarpitta, Rwenena Kids Ministry Leader

Photo: This photo represents a seedling that changed many lives. The sign reads, in part: “ donation of Cedar Lane Church, through the students of the ‘Junior Seminar’ class, session 2, for survivors of gender-based violence and their children.”

I’m here to tell you that the “Sunset, Sunrise” special service on January 12 at 1 pm is worth clearing the calendar for. We will mark Cedar Lane’s farewell to our 8-year service to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the volatile village of Rwenena. You may know that this program, which provided education and more to vulnerable children, originated with our 2009-10 7th-grade Religious Education (RE) class. You may have seen multigenerational sales of crafts made by African women to help fund the program. But what do you really know about goings-on—highs and lows—on the receiving end of our service? And of the life-changing experiences of myself as the intermediary and proactive guardian?

On January 12, I’ll tell you about and show you the amazing odyssey of activity from Cedar Lane to its evolving affiliates in the far reaches of tension-prone Congo. This was only supposed to be a 1-year social justice program for 7th graders. But the photo included here changed that. It convinced our RE students that they could make a tangible difference in lives on another side of the world. From there, the impact only grew.

When we began the formal education program in 2011, it consisted mostly of sponsorship for children who otherwise would not attend school. Although education is, as Congolese children told me, the key to a better life, back then, it was still a handout. My personal and professional growth took an unpredictable path. Among the cast of players encountered were people representing grassroots organizations and high-level, international entities; a series of field managers with whom I collaborated; and community residents, particularly the mothers of our sponsored students. As our service transitioned from delivering provisions through our partners to capacity strengthening and skills acquisitions, I discovered that mothers hold the key that would lead us to a stunning conclusion with Cedar Lane’s final release of funds just two months ago.

Cedar Lane’s connection with Rwenena may be at its final sunset, but in Rwenena, a sunrise opportunity is brewing right now. Please join us on January 12 to learn more.