Glad to have the trip to see the trauma recovery efforts and needs in the DRC and Rwanda. Glad to return home. It has been a whirlwind of experiences and emotions. I know many of you were in prayer for our trip so over the next 2 weeks I plan to post daily logs of our trauma recovery trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. I have some pictures and video that I hope to post but am still trying to figure out how to make some edits to the video clips I took each day.
Let me start by making a couple of observations about the things that were most noticeable–both in going to a new culture and in returning home. These are random…
- Chaos is the name of the game in the DRC. Nothing works well. Not customs, not roads, not electricity, not UN.
- Smooth roads in the DRC are few and far between. In Goma, they are TERRIBLE. Looks like they just carved them out of lava. What a wonderful place to live if you make your living replacing axles and struts.
- Electricity is spotty, internet slow…but most in Goma have 2 cell phones each. Why? Because they have two cell providers and at any time, one may be down
- The UN soldiers aren’t well liked in the DRC. Seen as either neutral (just observing not helping) or negative (participating in the raping of the Congo). Being a UN soldier may be one of the most mindnumbing job there is. Stand around. Do nothing for most of the time.
- Everybody walks everywhere
- Rwanda is developing by leaps and bounds. Not sure if all of it is good. On the one hand, massive construction in Kigali. Roads from Goma to the center of the country a delight. On the other hand, there are large sections that used to be slums in Kigali that are now green space/farming/nice properties. Where did those people go?
- Stereotyping: Congolese seem more open about their feelings than Rwandans.
- We are so blessed in this country. We can count on our infrastructure. We do not have to pay bribes. If we work, we probably will get paid.
- Despite their poverty, African worship is far more joyful and therapeutic (in a good way) than what we call worship in this country.
- I probably wouldn’t invite guests to my house if it were a 2 room board shack with no running water or toilet. Not the case for some in the DRC and Rwanda.
- Trauma is everywhere in Africa. Few resources to deal with it there, including the church
Day One: October 10-11; travel to Entebbe, Uganda
6 pm. Lift off on time from Philadelphia International Airport. Diane and I fly overnight to Belgium. It is always a challenge for me to get sleep on a plane so I got a prescription for Ambien to help. Learned that half a pill doesn’t much work for me. The total trip from Philadelphia to Uganda takes 18 hours of flight time. Add in the waits in Philadelphia, Brussels, and Kigali and you have 24 hours of travel, a long and painful trip. Yet, each leg went well and went off as planned. Two minor interesting experiences
- Recognized a stewardess on the first leg who plied me with a few freebies to make the trip much more pleasant
- Pretty sure I sat next to French journalist, Jean Hatzfeld, author of Machete Season and the Antelope Strategy on the trip to Kigali. Not sure since his English isn’t that good but he was editing proofs of a new book he said was about him and his role after the genocide. Wished I had determined for sure who he was and told him how I found his books so helpful.
Arrived in Entebbe at 9:45 pm, October 11. After that many hours, you feel rather fuzzy brained. But, we were met by someone from the Ugandan Bible Society who had us wait at the airport with him until Bagudekia Alobeyo, our American Bible Society friend, arrived on his flight some 45 minutes later. Once Bagu (our Congolese pastor/guide and friend) arrived we set off to a nearby hotel, the Imperial Beach Resort Hotel right on Lake Victoria. This turns out to be our best accommodations of the trip. First impressions right out of the airport. The lovely smell of charcoal cooking fires are quite prominent.
Off to sleep in hopes of good rest to be ready for our quick flight into the DRC tomorrow!