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  • Beth Duff-Brown

Born a Sin in Africa: Belgium's Lost Children

Born a Sin in Africa: Belgium’s Lost Children. Beth Duff-Brown, a member of our board who served in Kamponde, Kasai Occidental, from 1979 to 1981 as an English teacher, recently published this article in New Lines Magazine about a little-known slice of contemporary Congolese history. As she notes in this piece about a woman who was abducted by the Belgians from the village where she served, the Third Goal of the Peace Corps is to promote a better understanding of other cultures among Americans. Beth brings this story to life with her compassion, in-depth research and writing. The link goes to the article that you can read OR listen to. See the beginning of the piece below:


Monique Chantal Duchene recalls her final moments in the Congolese village where she was born. A white woman takes her by the hand and leads her to an old sedan where two nuns in habits are reaching out to her with a toy gendarme and some lollipops. Her unruly, dark-blonde hair is gathered in two thick braids; she is wearing a Western-style cotton dress, not one of the batik pagnes worn by the women and girls of her village. The nuns tell her she is going on a great adventure. The 7-year-old cries out for Mommy, but the nuns tell her not to worry — they will be reunited once the civil conflict ends.


Monique never saw her mother nor her birth village again. Her country was going through a violent transition from the Belgian Congo to the newly independent nation of the Republic of the Congo, which would later be renamed Zaire and is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thousands of multiracial children like her were swept up in the frenzy, taken from their families and sent to orphanages and foster families in Belgium.

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