Tag Archives: Lake Kivu

Tuza 2.0: Day Six and Seven


[June 28-29, 2013, Kibuye to Kigali, Rwanda]

Since my little fire mishap in the middle of the night, this conference has gone ever so smoothly. Our only difficulty has been figuring out what to cut since our talks now take twice the time due to translation time. The cuts have been to case studies in order to protect the cherished small group times. I opened our morning session with a devotional on “the cup of sweet water” and our need to address the bitter water that flows out of us. In a conference like this where we talk about domestic violence and sexual abuse, it is easy to think about evil “out there” in its most grotesque images. However, we all have the roots of this evil even if it only show up as pride and arrogance. I ended our devotional reminding us of the grace and hope given us in 1 John 1:9.

Our morning session consisted of Dr. Beverly Ingelse giving a talk about caring and counseling children who have suffered abuse. After a break and a group picture, we returned to our small groups to respond to some of Bev’s questions and to discuss cases. In my group we went fairly off topic to hear how two of our group members survived the genocide and how they are now dealing with children who did not go through the genocide but have symptoms of traumatic reactions (depression over lost Aunts and Uncles, dissociation during memorial periods, chronic fear). Just in these two stories, they counted 115 murdered extended family members! It boggles the mind of those of us who have only read about such experiences.

Just before lunch I gave a brief talk about how to facilitate storytelling in ways that does not further traumatize the teller. We looked at common behaviors of counselors that support recovery and common behaviors that may hinder recovery. Look for those in an upcoming post!

We concluded our conference a few hours earlier than expected so that attendees could return home to manage household duties prior to Saturday’s Umuganda, or monthly required civil service. We concluded with a short “What’s next?” session led by Baraka. A couple of key ideas were proposed and repeated:

  • One day set aside for hearing and responding to case studies
  • Seminars about integrity for pastors and lawyers (apparently, some very public abuse cases (by pastors) have rocked the counseling community in recent months
  • Network building: the attendees discussed formal or informal counselor network (to promote learning, peer supervision, and support. They requested technical assistance from AACC.

After our last lunch overlooking beautiful Lake Kivu, we boarded a bus and returned to Kigali. I sat next to Worship and her mother (a most precious toddler who batted her eyes at me and played peekaboo with me for 3 hours). Arriving in Kigali at dusk, we ended our day with a meal and good conversations.

Day Seven (the last)

The day started quiet and lazy with a savoring of my favorite breakfast: tropical fruit salad, coffee, and a croissant. It is good that it started this way because last night, neighbors of the retreat house decided that midnight to 5 am would be a good time to remove a sheet metal roof. The workers worked diligently and loudly, singing and laughing right outside my window. Around 5 I fell asleep for about 2 hours. These would be the only 2 hours for the next 40 or so.

As this was our last day in Rwanda, some wanted to get a bit of shopping done. I wanted to be sure to get some Rwanda tea and coffee. We hung around until about noon, when the required civil service was completed. Then, we struck out for good places to buy a few items. Though this is my third trip to Rwanda, it is my first to a shopping district. Some of our team looked for dresses, others for artistic work. I bought a few things but mostly enjoyed the people watching (and being people watched). Back at our Solace Ministries, we got our bags ready and watched a Rwandan wedding get underway. We were told after 3 hours that the bride had yet to make an appearance and that this is quite common–a good reminder of the differences in time culture!

By 9 pm we were boarding our plane to return home. I found it interesting that much of this flight (including the stop in Uganda) is filled with young (mostly female) adults looking to be college age. Some we spoke with had just spent 6 weeks with a professor and seeing various NGOs at work.

This has been a short but fulfilling trip. I look forward to returning in 1 year with our first round of Global Trauma Recovery students.

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Filed under Abuse, christian counseling, Christianity, counseling science

Tuza 2.0: Day Five


[June 27, 2013]. Day two of our three day conference. Today Dr. Barbara Shaffer talked about the problem of marital rape and reviewed 6 common characteristics of some abusive spouses. The participants were very involved in this presentation and the discussion about sex in marriage provoked some interesting debates among the group. The large group discussed the matter of dowry. In Rwanda, a husband’s family agrees to pay an amount to his bride’s family. The price is in terms of a number of cows. A friend told me that nowadays, “cows are kept in the bank.” This tradition gives many men the belief that they have purchased their wife. Now the wife is his (cherished) property. As such, he has rights to her body. Based on the conversation, I would argue that the concept of marital rape might indeed be foreign. One participant asked how 1 Corinthians 7 fit into this discussion. We were able to examine that this passage offers women the right to control their husband’s bodies just as much as he gets to have a say about her body. Not being sure where everyone stood in the debate, I concluded with a reminder that Philippians 2 requires that we emulate Christ in not demanding what we are due but giving it up so as to shine like stars.

After lunch Dr. Langberg presented on dissociation and a group of Rwandan counselors illustrated a counseling scene of dissociation and a counselor’s techniques in calming and grounding. Very well done! Just before the end of this day’s training, Rowan Moore gave a talk about child abuse. Kivu boats

Before dinner, we hired a local young man to take us out onto Lake Kivu in his boat. Ten of us motored out toward Peace Island. We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Napoleon Island but we rounded several small islands and enjoyed the setting sun. We passed several fishing boats netting the tiny fish that are in the lake. We could feel the stress of the day fade with the lap of the waves. [photo courtesy Laura Captari]

After dinner, we had an evening of celebration. We identified our Barnabas’ (each person secretly wrote notes of encouragement and prayer to another). And of course, there was dancing and laughter. I have come to love the fluid hand motions during dancing and the energetic movements of men and women. Sadly, I  cannot dance to save my life. I have not rhythm. Of course, there was a dance where I had to be front and center. I tried hiding behind a camera but even that did not save me. Still, it was sweet medicine after 2 days of talking trauma, abuse, and violence.

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Filed under AACC, Abuse, counseling, counseling skills, Rape, Rwanda, Uncategorized

Praying for Goma


Last year I had the privilege of touring Goma (search Congo 0r Goma or DRC in my search engine above) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is a city on the northern edge of Lake Kivu and on the border with Rwanda. Residents of Goma (and all of the displaced persons) have known much tragedy, especially since 1994 when the genocide in Rwanda spilled over into the DRC. There have been African multicountry wars, ethnic conflicts, rampant poverty, corruption, an ineffective central government…and now, today, it has fallen into the hands of a relatively small band of rebels called M23.

If you are like most, you find the regions somewhat confusing. You’ve heard about the area being deemed the rape capitol of the world. You’ve heard it is an area rich in minerals. You may have heard recently that Rwanda has been accused of supporting the M23 group. But, you probably find it hard to keep the various acronyms clear in your mind and the situation in Gaza and Israel get most of the conflict attention these days.

Please pray for those in the DRC. Pray for rescue. Pray that the international community will care about them and put proper pressure on the various parties. Pray for the restraint of evil. And if you would like more information, read this link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/11/20/a-guide-to-understanding-whats-happening-in-congo/

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Filed under Africa, Rwanda

DRC/Rwanda Trip: October 13, 2011


Up by 5:30am, a nice breakfast (omelet, Nescafe, fresh avocado half, and bread with Nutella), and then a trip to the airport to catch another MAF flight hop south to Beni (3 hour stop) and then on to Goma in the afternoon.

The flight to Beni from Bunia lasts about 35 minutes and travels a over verdant landscapes criss-crossed with reddish dirt paths. Wish we could stop here and there to check out some of the remote places. We see frequent fires being used to burn vegetation to prepare the land for farming. We arrived on time to Beni, a tiny dirt-tracked airport. I do not believe the small building space we walked through had electricity. Surprisingly, the road outside the airport was paved. In fact, it was the best paved road I saw in all of the DRC. We hear that the Chinese built it. What is the pay off for them I wonder.

Our quick car trip takes us to UCBC, a bilingual christian university in the town. We met with a number of young teachers and staff along with Daniel Masumbuko Kasereka, the chaplain and an administrator. The school was running some intensive English language classes in preparation of the start of a new term. Here too we hear about the trauma in students and the negative impact on their learning. We also learn about their attempts to bring some trauma recovery to the community by hosting some seminars using the trauma/reconciliation materials of Rhiannon Lloyd. We hear of sex trafficking and abduction of women by militias. Our time is short but we do have some good conversation with them. Nice to meet Baraka Kasali, the son of the rector and someone who clearly was raised in the US but using his talents in this small area. Also, met an American, Bethany Earickson who teaches English here.

Our time is short so we say our goodbyes (after using the pit toilets), pile back in the car and head back to the MAF plane awaiting our trip to Goma. We arrive at Goma around 1:00pm. Sadly, it was raining and so we did not get a view of the massive volcano just outside Goma. Instead we dodged clouds, flew over high peaks and Lake Albert, and then flew just above the tree tops to avoid turbulence.

First sights at the airport are rusting UN aircraft, lookouts, someone who demands money for landing, and customs officials who laboriously re-enter all of our visa information. Our passports disappear and then reappear. Not sure what they do with them.The trip to the hotel is our first glimpse of this chaotic city. All streets are rutted with potholes and unpaved. Piles of lava chunks litter the streets. Besides potholes and lava, you see boys going in every direction pushing the congolese “bike” as they transport goods hither and yon?

We arrive at Hotel Linda by 2pm. Hotel Linda sits on the edge (literally) of Lake Kivu. It is a beautiful view and beautiful sound (waves). This will be our home base for the next several days. Kingfishers are sitting on flowers outside my room. I find that the hotel has a public computer and free (slow) internet so I quick pop off an email to my family to let them know we have arrived. We have time to rest and talk about what we have so far seen and heard and how we might develop a trauma curriculum for training the faculties of various schools. For dinner, I choose Capitaine fish (chunks not fillet) cooked in spices and a banana leaf. Excellent.

Tomorrow begins an intense time of listening to trauma workers and trauma victims.

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Filed under AACC, counseling, counseling science, Uncategorized