Ornella, trapped in a conflict she had nothing to do with

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

In the heart of Kichanga DRC, where vibrant communities once thrived, Ornella, a 14-year-old girl, now finds herself trapped in a conflict she had nothing to do with. Her dreams of a future as a nurse are drifting further and further away as she and her mother navigate their new life in a camp for displaced people.

Before war broke out, Ornella’s mother, Furaha, worked in the fields near their home harvesting crops to sell and eat. Ornella was immersed in her studies and enjoying the new challenges that being in the sixth grade brought.

Then, the world as they knew it came crashing down. Ornella and her sisters were sitting around the dinner table when the sound of gunfire pierced their conversation. As the sounds of bullets reverberated through their community, coming nearer and nearer, Furaha knew they had to flee. What they didn’t know was that that was the last meal they would share together as a family.

Ornella and her mum fled to the forest but in doing so were separated from her older siblings. They took refuge in the dense forest, far from the familiarity of Kichanga, leaving behind all they knew.

For two agonizing days, they hid in the forest, unable to eat anything and too scared to leave. Finally, they heard that others were going to Bulengo, a place where people from Kichanga were gathering.

It was a small ray of hope, but not an end to their trauma. Once they arrived they faced a new reality: thousands of people, no infrastructure and little to no food. At this point they were safe, but hunger became a constant threat.

Out of desperation, Ornella’s mother resorted to washing clothes for strangers in exchange for a small bit of food. Ornella shared that her biggest fear was not being killed by rebels, but dying of hunger.

Ornella and Furaha’s story is not isolated as nearly a million people in Eastern DRC face displacement due to the rebel conflict. Their testimonies underscore that beyond the headlines of conflict, hunger is robbing people of a chance to recover.

 Our ability to stop wars is beyond our control, but our ability to help families survive and recover by providing essential food and support is critical.

Within two weeks of the conflict breaking out, World Vision was able to start providing vital food supplies, which became a lifeline for Ornella and her mother.

Support from donors around the world enabled World Vision to mobilize a response quickly. In partnership with the World Food Programme, World Vision has supported more than 600,000 people in Eastern DRC with food and cash assistance and distributed over 9,800 tonnes of food.

Ornella still dreams of becoming a nurse and prays that the conflict will end so that she can return to school.