©Daniel WAKANDU Medair DRC Aline and her family pose in front of their tent in the BUSHAGARA IDP camp

It is midnight when the terrifying sounds of weapons and bombs first reach the village of RUGARI, home to ALINE SADIKI, a 25-year-old mother of two. Her eldest child, VAINQUEUR, is barely 3 years old, and she is pregnant with her third child. That night when everything changes, she is initially torn between fleeing to get her family to shelter and staying in the hope that calm would return. She says to herself:  

“This war can’t possibly reach my village, they will surely stay in the neighbouring villages, I will see what happens.” But in the early hours of the morning, the clashes eventually reach Rugari, the village where Aline SADIKI lives. She knows full well that the war will not show her any favours or pass her by just because she is a pregnant woman nearing term in need of a safe place to give birth.  

“I had to flee, I had no choice. I was afraid of losing the child in my belly after several months of pregnancy. Plus, seeing the innocent faces of my children who were already in the world, I said to myself that they needed to be protected. The one in my belly would wait a little longer, I had no choice, I had to flee with my family.” 

Aline’s family has to travel around thirty kilometres on foot to reach the KAYNARUCHINYA internally displaced people (IDP) camp on the outskirts of the city of Goma in Nyiragongo Territory.  

 “The journey along the route was not easy, several people lost members of their family. We hadn’t taken anything when we left our home, just the clothes on our back. Come rain or cold, the only thing that mattered was surviving and protecting my children. I tied them to my hip with a rope to make sure I didn’t lose them,” she recalls. 

©Daniel WAKANDU Medair DRC Vainqueur looks on confidently in front of his home in the BUSHAGARA IDP camp

Once they reach the camp for displaced people, Aline is finally able to give birth in a medical centre on the Kaynaruchinya site. Here, it seems like she can catch her breath and tell herself that she is out of danger. She finally manages to settle into the new Bushagara site on the outskirts of Kaynaruchinyna, a site built to accommodate around 15,000 people. For the moment, she finds shelter, but then an equally deadly and invisible enemy inflicts itself on her family: CHOLERA. 

Due to poor hygiene conditions, this epidemic has already claimed victims in some camps, with children under the age of 5 at the greatest risk.  

It is in response to this emergency that Medair has set up a cholera care unit within the medical centre at Bushagara near Nyiragongo. 

©Daniel WAKANDU – MEDAIR DRC The MEDAIR medical centre at the entrance to the BUSHAGARA IDP site, which houses more than 15,000 people

“VAINQUEUR started having diarrhoea, he became so fragile, I was scared and I saw his little eyes closing. My child was dying. I had heard of the Medair hospital where healthcare is provided free of charge. The problem is that we often resort to herbs first, I thought he had just taken the wrong thing. Then I said to myself ‘VAINQUEUR MUST LIVE!’ So I went to Medair.” 

Aline manages to get little Vainqueur to the Medair medical team at the centre, open 24 hours a day, in time. Since it was set up in January 2023, it has provided primary healthcare to more than 15,000 people. Medair teams have treated more than 2100 patients to date, including 614 children under the age of 5, and facilitated the births of around five children. Providing access to healthcare and responding to the cholera epidemic have thus helped make the Bushagara site a more liveable place for the people living there.  

“I am grateful for what Medair achieved for my son VAINQUEUR. Today I see him grow and smile, I am very happy. When we were in the medical centre, we received the healthcare we needed from the doctors. We were also given food every day, thanks to which Vainqueur returned to better health. When we left the hospital, Medair gave me basins, soap and everything I needed to take care of my family and clean my house,” adds Aline!

©Daniel WAKANDU Medair DRC A happy family: a cheerful Aline in her tent with her children. Vainqueur, teasing his sister, born in the midst of the conflict.

“When I see my son Vainqueur, I would like him to be a great doctor one day, (laughs) maybe an MP. In any case I want him to become someone important, that is my dream for him.” 

Medair teams are still working to respond to the health emergency by providing free healthcare to the displaced people living in the Bushagara camp. The medical aid has helped support these communities forced to flee their villages because of the war between the Congolese army and the rebel groups. The war has displaced more than 600,000 people far from their villages.

©Daniel WAKANDU Medair DRC Vainqueur poses in front of their tent in the BUSHAGARA IDP site

The healthcare site set up by Medair receives an average of two cases of cholera per day, mostly children. Since February, there has also been an increase in cases of measles in the Bushagara camp. Medair teams have had to redouble their commitment to deal with this new wave, which is spreading rapidly, especially among children under the age of 5. The teams working on the frontline against the epidemics raging in this IDP camp are more determined than ever. Because each life matters! 


Medair’s work in Bushagara is made possible by funding from USAID-BHA, DG-ECHO, SDC and private donors.