ELKHART, Indiana (AIMM/Mennonite Mission Network) — Torrential wind and rain ripped through Ndjoko Punda the night of Nov. 22, killing 16 people and injuring hundreds. The storm also destroyed about 1,700 homes and more than 100 public buildings such as health centers, churches and schools.
The city of Ndjoko Punda in the Democratic Republic of Congo (population about 200,000) had its beginning in 1912 as the first station for Congo Inland Mission, now Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission.
"We have barely emerged from the crises caused by the Kamuina Nsapu," Joseph Nkongolo said.
Nkongolo is a member of the assessment team that helped organize aid distribution provided by the combined efforts of eight Mennonite mission agencies in 2017–2018. He continues to work as the development coordinator for Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Church of Congo) focusing on relief, rebuilding communities, and trauma healing.
"All of the brick structures of the Ndjoko Punda mission station, such as the hospital, the church, schools and former missionary homes, have been destroyed or damaged," said Rod Hollinger-Janzen, AIMM's executive coordinator.
The Kasaï River flows through Ndjoko Punda dividing the city. The Mennonite buildings are located on the left bank, and government offices and businesses on the newer right bank. Death and desolation occurred on both sides of the river, Nkongolo said.
Top priorities for intervention, according to Nkongolo, are shelter for thousands who have lost their homes, food, and medical care. AIMM is coordinating a response with Mennonite Church of Congo and other Congolese organizations.