Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Detour: The Democratic Republic of Congo
I’m taking a week to do some work in Goma, DRC. I was asked by a ministry in Kampala to document the refugee situation and how it is affecting children, and I’ve been dying for a reason to visit Congo for over a year. Of all the places that I’ve visited in Africa, Eastern Congo has made the best first impression. It is perhaps the most gorgeous place I have ever seen, but is also perhaps the poorest and most war-torn area in Africa. Since the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, the conflict has spilled into Congo, killing as many as 5 million people, most from disease or starvation. I wonder how a place with so much beauty could be the venue for so much pain.
I visited an Internally Displaced Persons Camp yesterday, but i haven’t seen too much of Congo, so my impressions are still very fresh and I honestly can’t make any sweeping generalizations about the place. The place seems magical and mysterious—it makes me want to live here for 6 months. I’m sure if I ever base myself in Africa, ill be spending a great deal of time here in Goma.
Generally, I feel safe, except for the challenges that come along with speaking English in a Swahili and French speaking region. Next time I come, I swear I’ll be fluent in at least French.
I have a particularly grueling itinerary ahead of me. I’ll try to blog as often as possible.