As I was discovering how Mary personifies hope, I felt the strong link between Mary and the Congolese mamas. I understood why these mamas personify hope for me.
MAMA SIFA rapidly comes down the hill. It is 6 am. She goes to Lake Kivu like every morning, with a plastic bag and … her rosary. On the shore, she fills her bag of roughly 50 kg of sand. She puts it on her back and ties it with a braided belt that encircles her forehead. With other mamas, she slowly climbs up the hill, a long calvary of a half hour, an hour or more … Whether the sun shines or the rain falls in torrents, She carries on, head bent. Mama Sifa is young. She can make three trips a day. Her rosary in hand, heart full of hope, she walks; happy to think of the flour she will buy for the evening meal. One day she came back empty-handed; the “boss” was absent, she said with a somewhat sad smile: “Tomorrow it will be better.”
At 6 am, the church was almost filled with papas and especially the mamas. They come to the Source; they feed on the Word and the Bread to face the daily hardships. And they sing and they dance with their whole heart.
MAMA CHANCE placed a pot of food behind the church door. She is not alone! After the Eucharist she goes down to the jail, where her son has been for three weeks following a battle between neighbors to get a job. Every night she brings him enough to survive. Every day, she hopes that things will work out.
MAMA JOYEUSE goes to the hospital. Her husband has been ill for a fortnight. Before going up the hill with a bag of cassava on her back, she brings him a thermos of tea and some food. “Mama, where will you find the money to pay for medical expenses?” A beautiful smile lights up her face. “God is there. Does he abandon the birds and the wildflowers?” 6:30 p.m… It is dark. Kids are shouting “Petroli Petroli” In a small box (of tomato concentrate) there is kerosene for sale to fill the lamps.
MAMA SAKINA prepared the meal … in a dish, a ball of dough in a pot, green vegetables to share between eight children and their parents. A knock at the door … “Karibu, MAMA AIMEE”. She enters, a little embarrassed. “I sold nothing today. We have nothing to eat tonight ” Without hesitation, Sakina Mama shares the vegetables and the ball of dough already not very large. Tomorrow, who knows if it is not she who will go to Mama Aimee.
Every night in so many houses in the vast city of Kadutu (Bukavu area, eastern DR Congo), we pray to MAMA MARY, the one who waited all her life, one who hoped against hope and who never doubted her Son Jesus. Holy Mary, I understand better why the preferred name that Congolese mamas give you is that of MAMA. Yes you, MAMA MARY, you understand them so well, you are present in their sufferings, their pains, their sorrows. They know that you sought your Jesus during three days, that you stood near the cross; that you received your dead son in your arms and you never lost hope.
Mama Sifa, Mama Chance, Mama Joyeuse, Mama Sakina, Mama Aimee – they rely on God, on his love, his fidelity … They are sustained by faith and nourished by charity. They do not let themselves be discouraged by these daily sufferings.
They follow in the footsteps of MAMA MARY HOPE
Sister Patricia. from Belgium