Italian nun Sister Maria Concetta, 81, talks with mothers at Zongo Hospital where she works as a midwife in Zongo, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 21, 2015. AFP/FEDERICO SCOPPA
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Still going strong at 81, Italian nun and midwife Sister Maria Concetta Esu recently asked Pope Francis to bless her hands, which have delivered more than 34,000 African babies.About 40 babies are born in the Zongo clinic each month and several happy parents have named their newborns after Sister Maria.Another strong memory was the arrival of rebels led by Laurent-Desire Kabila, whose Rwandan-backed Alliance of Democratic Forces for Liberation brought Mobutu down at the end of the First Congo War (1996-97).During the Second Congo War of 1998-2003, which drew in more than half a dozen foreign armies after Kabila fell out with Rwanda, the mission was left in peace by local rebel forces behind Jean-Pierre Bemba, who held sway in the territory.During that violence, Sister Maria's mission became a haven of peace and assistance for many Central Africans who fled into DR Congo to escape the killing, raping and looting.
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