Singing despite the suffering

Bishops' wives from Congo attending the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, Kent. (Photo: Susie Leafe)

It was a scene I have witnessed on numerous occasions in different parts of Africa – women grouped together under the trees, taking refuge from the sun's burning rays.

They are talking, laughing and then one of them starts to sing; quietly at first, but as others join in, the sound swells, and the dancing begins.

But this was the first time I've come across the scene in Kent. Intrigued, I went over to speak to them - a group of bishops' wives attending the Lambeth Conference.

"We come from Congo. It is always fighting. But we have God," they said. 

And then they began to talk and they spoke of the danger that women in the villages face.

 "As they go to find food for their children, women get violence and rape." 

And there is more "trouble" for women "as they are responsible for the family, not the men", they explain.

This danger means many are moving to the towns where it is safer. 

"Sometimes in the towns they are receiving 30, 40, 50 people a day."

Families are divided and social networks have broken down so it is to the Church that many are turning. "

"We need help – for your prayers," they say.

"We need to learn how to help women cope with the trauma. They need relief, so they know that God is everything."

They add, "Always you hear about Congo – it is trouble. To be here is the grace of God."