Thirty-five buildings on the Mennonite mission station, including the oldest central Mennonite church, were destroyed when wind and torrential rain ripped through Ndjoko Punda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 22.
Multiple Mennonite churches, schools and health centers were destroyed, including three Mennonite hospital buildings, the Mennonite Ndombi Professional School with its woodworking and masonry training workshops and homes of Mennonite doctors, pastors and other church leaders, according to local reports.
“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 executive coordinator.
The storm killed 16 people, injured hundreds and destroyed about 1,700 homes and more than 100 public buildings.
A city of about 200,000, Ndjoko Punda had its beginning in 1912 as the first station for Congo Inland Mission, now Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission.
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, reported Joseph Nkongolo, development coordinator for the Mennonite Church of Congo. His work focuses on relief, rebuilding communities and trauma healing after violence in recent years.
Priorities for intervention are shelter for thousands who have lost their homes, food and medical care. AIMM is coordinating a response with the Mennonite Church of Congo and other Congolese organizations.