BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Children line the streets in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the the aftermath of a devastating volcanic eruption on May 22.
"It’s terrible...they’re sleeping outside, on the ground number one because there are so many earthquakes," said Evelyn Kessler, Founder and Executive Director at International Child Advancement.
Tens of thousands fled the city of Goma, including children and volunteers at the GUAOA Orphanage, leaving them in danger.
"Businesses are closed, banks are closed, very few corner stores are open, so getting food is a challenge...looters came in and started stealing items from people’s home and they unfortunately went to the orphanage as well," said Kessler.
Mattresses, sheets, blankets, pots, pans were taken. Kessler is Congolese and her organization works directly with this orphanage.
"Our mission is to empower underprivileged children and orphans to become self sufficient and we do that through education, vocational training and mentoring. We pair orphans with educational sponsors so they can go to school," said Kessler.
But right now, about 85 children at the orphanage are looking for some basic necessities.
"Our priority right now is to make sure the children can get food and drinking water. Additionally we want to replace the items that were stolen," said Kessler.
Here’s how you can help:
- They have a list of items on their website that you can donate
- You can donate to their GoFundMe page
- You can donate through paypal right on their website
"Buffalove, there’s so much love here and for me it’s important to push the message that every child is important, not just here in our own backyard, but also overseas," said Kessler.
Many ask Kessler--is there a way this local non-profit can bring these children to the U.S. and get them out of the Congo?
There are three reasons why Kessler says it's more beneficial to keep them where they are:
- Immigration—she says there are too many hoops to jump through with 85 kids
- Community impact--if they can give children the tools they need to thrive and start businesses in their community, they’ll have the ability to make a positive impact for children outside of the orphanage, said Kessler
- It's home. The kids want to stay home, Kessler says they don't want a hand out, they want a hand up