Mattresses for Congo – UPDATED!

UPDATED 08/06/2012: When the Mattresses for Congo fundraising effort began on June 6, the goal to raise $25,000 by August 1 seemed very aggressive. After the first couple of weeks, donations slowed down some and we began to wonder whether we’d make it or not. But when August 1 arrived, we had not only met our goal, but exceeded it!

Based on the incredible response, we’ve revised our goal for Mattresses for Congo; we have increased our goal to a total of $50,000 by Christmas. We raised the first $25,000 in seven weeks so it’s not a stretch to think we can raise another $25,000 in five months.

If you would like to learn more about Mattresses for Congo, visit, where you can make an online donation, or you can mail a check directly to ROW, referencing Mattresses for Congo on your check.


Dear Friends:

I am writing this for two reasons. First, I want to say thank you to those who have already responded by making a contribution to Mattresses for Congo* and second, to remind those of you who intend to donate, but may have been busy with the July 4 holiday and forgotten.

Several weeks ago, I sent you an email, telling you about my trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I told about our visits to the hospitals at the historic Presbyterian mission stations in Luebo, Bulape, Kananga, Tshikadji,Lubandaie and Bibanga. AndIspecifically mentioned the experience of walking into a hospital room and seeing the small boy who was sitting on a small, square piece of plywood because his bed had no mattress. As a result, I created an online fundraiser on CrowdRise called MattressesforCongo*,with a goal of raising $25,000.00 by August1. At this time, we have raised $14,161.00, with only three weeks remaining until our deadline. What an incredible response!

Since walking into that hospital room, I have repeatedly thought about that child, wondering if he recovered from his severe malnutrition. I am still processing the things we did and saw in Congo, and I continue to wonder why, given the intensity of the poverty and the limited resources, I was so affected by this one experience.

During my life there have been a number of times when I felt that I was being called to action, and rather than acting, went on about my business. But this time, I had to act; maybe it was that I had finally had my “enough moment” that Don Cheadle and John Prendergast, the founders of the Enough Project describe. Or maybe all the time spent in the hospital with our son Holden gave me a different set of eyes than I had before. Or maybe I asked myself the same question that the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” just before Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. I don’t know.

But I do know that this is a worthy cause and I also know that we can’t reach our goal of $25,000.00 by August 1, without some help. We have just three weeks left to achieve it. Some of you have already given generously and I thank you. I would just ask that each of you pray about this, and if you feel that you are being called to help down the home stretch, please make a contribution to this cause.

When we were in the village of Lubandaie, the village where our mission team member Jimmy Shafe lived growing up, we walked into the church. It wasn’t much different than the others we visited; it needed some paint and other work, including roof repairs. But inside, behind the pulpits, painted on the wall, there was a Bible verse written in Tshiluba, the language spoken in the Kasai.

Please visit the fundraiser web page at

Charles Johnson

Broken Autoclave

Broken Autoclave

When Ben, Jimmy Shafe, Charles Johnson and Brian Bobb traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo in May, they visited sewing schools, orphanages, boat yards, and hospitals. Each day was filled from morning to dark with these types of visits. The first week was spent in the capital city of Kinshasa. After that, the team, along with Ruthie Schaad, boarded a single engine Cessna and set off for the Kasai. One of the primary tasks of the team was to assess the condition and needs of the hospitals located in the villages of Luebo, Bulape, Tshikaji, Bibanga and Lubandaie. These facilities are staffed by dedicated doctors and their staffs, but are lacking in some of the most basic medical equipment and supplies. In Bulape, we saw a number of broken autoclaves that would probably be easily repaired in the US, where parts and trained repairmen are available. But in Bulape, the hospital currently sterilizes its surgical instruments over a wood fire, on the ground, in an open pan. Hanging overhead was a clothesline upon which there were used latex gloves that had been washed and hung to dry, for reuse later.

Can you imagine your response if you were to walk into a medical facility in the US and witness such a sight?

Sterilizing Over Fire

Sterilizing Over Fire

Later, we visited IMCK/Good Shepherd Hospital in Tshikaji. This is the biggest of the hospitals that we visited. As we toured this facility, we stopped in various rooms and visited with the patients, many of them children, and their families. One of the rooms was occupied by three young boys who were suffering from severe malnutrition. One of the boys, who appeared to be about two, sat on a small piece of plywood, in lieu of a mattress, on his hospital bed. We were told that the staff had burned the mattresses after an Ebola outbreak several years back, and had not yet been able to replace them all. This scene weighed heavily on the minds of all of our team.

When Charles returned home to San Antonio, he was still struggling with the needs he saw at these hospitals. Finally, on June 6, he decided we needed to do something about it and created an online fundraiser on CrowdRise, called Mattresses for Congo*. The goal of Mattresses for Congo* is to raise $25,000 by August 1, 2012. These funds will be donated to ROW and designated for use in purchasing good, vinyl covered, hospital mattresses and other needed medical equipment and supplies for these hospitals. We are currently in the process of obtaining information on the number of mattresses needed; Good Shepherd alone needs 121. Mattresses for Congo* has gotten off to an incredible start, raising $5,450 in the first week, but we have a long way to go in order to meet our goal of $25,000 by August 1. We need your help.

Please visit the fundraiser web page at At the site you can make a donation to support this effort. Also, please share this project with you friends on Facebook, email friends, etc, so we can reach our goal and make sure the next time we visit Congo, no children are sitting on boards in their hospital beds.

Mattresses For Congo

Mattresses For Congo


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