One patient in HEAL Africa’s ward reflects the impact of losing her while confirming the legacy of compassion and generosity she leaves behind: “We are missing her so badly, but we know she is now in a better place. We will never ever forget what she did for us and for our country.”
Lyn first went to DR Congo as a missionary teacher in 1971. She fell in love with a visionary Congolese physician, Dr. Kasereka M. “Jo” Lusi and they married in 1974. The couple’s combined skill in medicine, education, and administration led them to serve for 19 years in north-eastern Congo’s Nyankunde Hospital as well as several schools.
Even then, Jo and Lyn dedicated themselves to training young national doctors—a commitment that would lead them to found HEAL Africa in 2000. Having earned her Master’s in Human Resource Development and Training in 1999, Lyn began applying her formidable skills to develop HEAL Africa not only into a medical training centre, but into a place capable of healing and supporting survivors of violence and rape.
Despite serious challenges and setbacks due to the region’s economic impoverishment, political destabilization, and natural disasters, HEAL Africa has thrived in recent years. This is not merely a testament to Lyn’s skill, but to her formidable determination. In 2002, when a local volcano destroyed the organization’s original hospital, the rebuilding project accomplished much more than simply repairing what could be saved. A bigger, better hospital emerged, and more services for local people.
The same determination was used to help many, many Congolese not only survive their traumas but rebuild their lives. Lyn’s model of service lives on and will continue to do so in HEAL Africa’s work. The thousands whose lives she has already touched through this organization will go on to affect thousands more, growing her positive influence long after her time of service has ended.
In addition to her many friends in Goma, Lyn will be remembered by the very many people she encouraged and enabled to support HEAL Africa’s effort.
This included many individuals an churches in many parts of the world; many charities, including WorldShare; UNICEF, the World Bank and the governments of the US, Norway, Germany, Netherlands and many other countries.
In November 2011, Lyn was awarded the prestigious Opus Prize which recognizes unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today’s most persistent social problems. The funds from that award were placed in a trust to be used for specific projects Lyn was most passionate about; these projects will carry on her legacy of working with women and communities in eastern Congo.
On March 19th US Senator Dick Durbin, who has visited HEAL Africa on several occasions, paid tribute to Lyn on the floor of the US Senate, concluding with these words:
"Her death this weekend due to cancer is a terrible loss for Goma, it is a terrible loss for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for Africa, and it
is a terrible loss for every single one of us.
"We need to make certain that what she gave her life to does not end but continues. We have to make certain her heroic efforts continue through her husband Jo and through all who have participated in making sure this lonely, tragic corner of the world is never forgotten.
"Many of the friends she made for HEAL Africa were amongst the rich and famous – people of all backgrounds and faiths. But not only were we all touched by the amazing insight and clarity of Lyn’s mind, and the passion of her communication, but by her shining Christian testimony. Lyn has been a living testimony to what is achieved by God working through His people in one of the most terrible places on earth.
"We will all miss her very much. We put her into God’s loving care and pray for His comfort for her family and many friends. And we hope to follow her example of service."
Lyn Lusi succumbed to cancer at the age of 62. She leaves behind her loving husband Jo, son Paluku and his wife and son, daughter Nadine, four sisters, and thousands of friends and colleagues who loved her.
Lyn was laid to rest in Butembo, North Kivu, on March 20th. The Lusi family originally comes from this area, giving it special meaning as Lyn’s final return home. Some of her last words before her death were: “Tell them not to cry.” To the end she was thinking of how to comfort the sorrows of others. Her love and her full heart will carry on – forever.
THE ECONOMIST's tribute to Lyn Lusi - click here
GIFTS IN MEMORY OF LYN LUSI
Gifts in memory of Lyn can be made to the HEAL Africa Mercy Fund, which pays for treatment of the most needy at HEAL Africa.