Hunger Strike for the Congo
Organized by: Tifani Peterson
Update 5/12/2015: We tried contacting Bahati all weekend, but couldn't get through so he has not received his money yet. We finally got through to him today. When we told him how we were going to help his family, you could hear all of the stress leave him and relief wash over him as he sighed. He expressed his gratitude over and over again. Now that we have contacted him, the $695 raised so far will go to him to help his family in the hopes that he will begin to heal without a specialist since I have begun to believe that it is stress for his family that is hindering his healing. Also, a friend in the Congo will be teaching his wife how to make soaps and, hopefully, that will also help their family. I will not end my hunger strike yet since I do not know yet whether or not Bahati will really heal or not, we still have $2,000 in back medical bills, and I have been convicted lately, as I read the Bible, that Jesus did not want to face crucifixion, but He did. He asked God to take it from Him, but He never sought to put it down on His own. I want to be like God in this. If there are extra funds raised that Bahati does not need, we will begin to plant 400 acres in the Congo that were willed to a friend of mine when her parents were killed in the war. The farm will provide many jobs and money to help people. Until now, such a venture has been impossible because it costs too much money to rent or buy a tractor. If people still donate after Bahati is okay, I can assure you that your funds will go to help many, many people. Thank you all for the support you have given me so far. I am incredibly grateful for all of you.
Update: One month minus a day from the onset of my hunger strike, I sent the $625 that has been donated so far to our contact in the Congo to take care of Bahati as much as possible. My instructions were to make sure he has antibiotics, get beds for his family that are not going to get wet when it floods, make sure they have blankets, the baby has clothes, and that they all have proper nutrition. We have also sent Bahati home (since there is nothing more we can do for him at this point). His arm is in danger of rotting, at which point he will need it amputated. this is bad because, in his country, there is no work for amputees. His wife would have to be the one that works from here on on out and she would be in constant danger of being raped under the working conditions that Bahati was working. Our hope is that Bahati will begin improving as fear for his family diminishes and he receives proper nutrition.
As we wait, pray, and see, my hunger strike continues. I am down 30+ pounds and tomorrow will be one month with just water. Because I was a bit chubby before, I am thin, but not gaunt. God is good as he continues to give me strength and He continues to send generous people. Thank you all so much for what you have done so far.
Bahati is somebody we have been trying to help for a year now. His situation is now so difficult that I began a hunger strike on April 10th to raise money for him. His story is below, but here are some practical ways that anybody can help:
2.) Share my post with others.
3.) Promote my business that I set up exclusively to help my African friends (TippiJ customs on facebook and TippiJ on Etsy)
4.) Buy from my store on Etsy. I made $500 for Africa in March and was able to put a $250 down payment on Bahati's medical and pay the $270 support for the 22 orphans that I provide monthly help for, but this month I have not made a single sale.
Bahati, like many Congolese people, was victimized by the war. At the age of 14, he was forced to rape a 12 year-old girl or the men threatened to kill one of his family members with a machete. The girl became pregnant. Life for women who are impregnated outside of marriage is extremely bad in Africa. Women are ostracized, mocked, and they are unable to get a job. Women are given 2 choices: 1.) Starve with your child. 2.) Become a prostitute. Bahati knew this so he decided to marry the girl. The problem is that he is very poor and he had to give up his education to do this. Education is everything in Africa. It is the only way a person can get a better life. His only option was to become a farmer in a terrible place similar to a slave plantation. People gave him and his wife a "house", but it is little more than a box with a metal roof and it floods when it rains forcing the whole family to sleep on soaked mats. With a second child on the way, Bahati became desperate. He begged us to send him to school. We arranged this with the principal, but he managed to break his arm badly while playing sports in PE. The severity of the damage was due to the years he suffered malnourishment. The doctors had to reconstruct his arm. Bahati has now been in the hospital since January and he is not healing. His arm has become infected and the doctors have contacted us to tell us that he needs to see a specialist across the country. Apparently, Bahati has been suffering like this for 2 months, but refused to call us because he didn't want to burden us. Meanwhile, his wife is forced to work his job with a 1 month old strapped to her back, a 6 year-old left at home, and her baby is naked because she cannot afford clothes.
My hunger strike for Bahati will continue until 1.) I have raised the money he needs to get his medical bills paid or 2.) I begin to starve (that's somewhere between 30-40 days). My last meal was at 2:00 on April 10th. I allow myself only water and an occasional pinch of salt to regulate electrolytes.
Many of my friends have heard stories of people that we have helped in the Congo and in Kenya for the last 3 years (3 of which have recently immigrated to the states). We have provided shelter to over 45 people, reunited families, paid hospital bills for reconstructive surgeries, births, malaria, infections, etc. We have provided education, uniforms, and testing fees for 22 orphans and two children were rescued from slavery. We have personally spoken with the UN, doctors, school administrators, and people from other international organizations such as Catholic Community Services to verify these claims and many of the people we help were previously known by my Congolese friend in the states. In three years, this has cost over $30,000. That is 83% of my annual household income. I didn't do it alone. Generous Americans have provided a total of $3000 in 3 years and generous Africans have provided $6000 over the course of three years. The remaining $21,000 has been from the wages of myself and my 19 year-old Congolese friend who resides in America. I tell you this so that you know that I would not be asking for help if it were not for an extreme need. Please help.