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Category Archives: East Congo

U is for Utilities (Africa)

Gathering rain in...totally did a double take.

Gathering rain in…totally did a double take.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

My friend warned me, “It’s the rainy season, so the utilities will be a little…you know.”

I didn’t know.

I figured from a previous visit to Congo that if the capital city of Kinshasa lost electricity and water for short durations fairly regularly that being all the way on the other side of the country meant more of that–especially given the season.

Sometimes we were without electricity for longer periods (like hours or maybe half the night), but our hosts had a generator they would run if they or we needed it. We ran the generator at the education center a good bit and went through a lot of gas which bothered me more. Like we were pouring money into a machine when beautiful bight sunshine was all around waiting to be harnessed. A little bummed that solar panels are so expensive, but I understand the need and the benefit in a different way now and am praying for supply.

The great thing about the rainy season is that when the running water stops running, there is still plenty. Our first few nights in East Congo the rain came down and the two 100 gallon(?) drums on each side of the house filled to over flowing by morning. I kind of wondered how many times you wash out a hydrochloric acid drum before you’re confident about drinking its contents, though.

When you travel in Europe you learn to take advantage of the restrooms at your lunch, cafe, snack stop because they aren’t available to anyone but customers. In Congo you learn to hop in the shower if someone says there’s hot water running. Otherwise our kind hosts lugged a 5 gallon bucket of piping hot water from the stove up to the bathroom for us. If I wasn’t doing the #AtoZChallenge for my blog, I would have entitled this “Standing Bath, Sitting Shower.” For bucket bath I find it easier to stand and run water by the cup-fulls as needed from the position where the water covers the most area. For the showers I sat though.

The shower head was what I tend to think of as European since I first saw them here and they are very common. They are the ones with the head mounted on a flexible hose that are terrific when giving the dog or a small child a bath since you can hold it at any angle and get in close where needed. What I don’t get is why they are mounted about a meter (or yard) above the bathtub. To relax under the stream of hot water, to wash out my waist length hair is to sit.

Our timing and schedule being as full as it was, we were mostly standing this trip. Bathing from bucket is not new to us–as my niece pointed out, she used to use the bucket method when visiting her grandparents on the reservation back before they got running water. Used frugally, the bucket had enough in the bottom to turn my head upside down and dunk my hair for one wash and rinse.

It was fine. We adjusted and came home with a greater appreciation of what we have so readily and often take for granted. Still I have to say I am especially grateful to whoever it was that invented “Dry Shampoo” that works for brunettes like us. Thank you!

At some point I told my Congolese friend, “I thought the utilities would be more of a challenge since it’s the rainy season and all.”

She frowned like she didn’t understand and I reminded her about the warning she gave me before arrival. “Oh no,” she said, “things are much better in the rainy season with all the water and everything. I meant to prepare you because it wouldn’t be like what you’re used to.”

Oh. Guess I got it all wrong–and I’ll pack more dry shampoo when I travel next time.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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T is for Tailor in Africa

(#AtoZChallenge April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Our hosts' daughter was coming home from a wedding the day we arrived. Wow!

Our hosts’ daughter was coming home from a wedding the day we arrived. Wow!

One of the most delightful souvenirs you can bring back from the Congo is a new outfit. Choose from hundreds of fabric options at the textile market. Then visit the tailor and choose from hundreds of dress styles. Mix and match skirts with tops. Bring a shirt you like the fit of and have the tailor make you another in fabric of your choice.

My favorite outfit from DR Congo.

My favorite outfit from DR Congo.

When picked up our younger sons a few years ago, we had matching shirts made for all the guys and a coordinating skirt for me. The family picture we took that year is the one from which I cropped my head-shot for all social media. Talk about a terrific Christmas card photo!

Tailoring is also big business in a culture where special events like weddings, anniversaries and honoring fests may see every member of the family getting the same fabric and having an outfit made for the gala. Seriously–sometimes there might be a 100+ people getting things made for the big event.

 

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

Forced to quit school years ago, this young woman is now training to be a tailor thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

Forced to quit school years ago, this young woman is now training to be a tailor thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

A shot of just one booth at the fabric market.

A shot of just one booth at the fabric market.

 
 

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S is for (Silent) Scream

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

“Can you tell the driver if I see a monkey I’ll scream,” I said to my soul-sister, Bintu, as we drove from Kigali through Nyungwe Forest National Park headed to East Congo. Forewarned the driver gave us a big heads up when he spotted this fella–and I managed to only scream with excitement on the inside so I could shoot this video for you. 😉

A couple folks couldn’t get this video to operate here. Link to it on youtube with this link: https://youtu.be/tNjbx4xDq3A

L’Hoest’s monkey (Cercopithecus lhoesti), or mountain monkey, is a guenon found in the upper eastern Congo basin. They mostly live in mountainous forest areas in small, female-dominated groups. They have a dark coat and can be distinguished by a characteristic white beard. (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Hoest%27s_monkey)

What is it about seeing an animal in the wild?

Terrific.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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Q is for Questioning Africa Travel

IMG_0016(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Are you going on a safari? Aren’t you afraid of Ebola? You used to live there didn’t you?

No. No. And no.

Tell people you’re going to Africa and all sort of questions will come your way. Add to it the fact that you’re going to the Congo, and even your best friend will question your decision (which she did BTW). So much so that it’s hard not to start questioning yourself.

Isn’t it dangerous? Isn’t that one of the places where there’s fighting? Have you checked with the State Department? What does your husband think?

Any place can be dangerous, and yes there are still rebels (fairly far away though). I don’t have to stay up to date with travel.gov because, believe me, I’ve got several people sending me every bit of bad news that’s coming out of central Africa. My husband? Well, he’s concerned, signed off on it, and praying a lot recently.

Every question, though, is an opportunity to get the word out about our education center. An open invitation to talk about our cause and encourage folks to think about how they can make a difference wherever their hearts lead them–even right at home.

I can’t say I don’t do silly things and sometimes act without thinking, but traveling to Africa is not one of those things. My mind, my heart, and my soul were fully engaged and already focused on the return trip plans.

The hardest questions were those from my sons. Why do you have to go, Mommy? Why can’t you take me with you?

Perhaps next time my silly-side will find a better hat-photo-op. Cause nothing says “doing fine in Africa” like sporting a huge sieve on your head–even little people can see that.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 20, 2015 in A to Z Blog, East Congo, Travel

 

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P is for Princess Club

IMG_0495(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

When I write about the Congo, the Princesses come up often. Usually I refer to them without comment or explanation. Like when they exclaimed about my eating, or when I quoted one saying “Education Is Life.” Describing who they are is not so simple.

At first they were among early entrants to our education center. Some were sponsored by our Belgian grant to attend school. Several helped with VBS for the children (vacation bible school) during the summer. Several are featured on our website homepage photo. One has become our Operations Director’s assistant.

The simple answer is to say we have two groups of Princesses with some overlap. The first group is those who are sponsored to go to school. They are in the Princess Program. The second group is the Princess Club which is made up of girls and young women who come together at the education center for everything from movie night (my shock here) to hygiene classes to discipleship.

Why Princesses? As children of God (the King of Kings) all the students are important, valuable, and either a prince or a princess. While the Prince Club has just started, the Princesses are ready to change the world.

Here’s what they say via translation:

Most of what we learn here is not learned other places. We learn how to face life, how to be ourselves. And personally I would like this learning to follow us all our life. In the future we won’t be here like we are now. Some have gone to study, other will take other commitments for life. Wherever we go we hope to be like stars that never lose their life.

We don’t learn for ourselves alone–we learn for others. I would like to see and hear wherever each goes that we are a good testimony. Women on which the world, the church, our families can count. And transfer that to the community. Because communities are suffering. (Evalyne)

From here I go back to University (in Kenya). So much is corrupt. Many people and girls are very different, do things I know are not good for us, as Princesses. We have learned to stand. (Carmel)

When we started Education ASBL it was difficult. We worked hard with all our hearts b/c what we are doing is important. One thing that’s helped alot of children is we didn’t pay attention to social classes. We treated all the children the same. Children who wouldn’t appear before others, here we welcomed and treated the same. For me, I can’t stop thanking God for Education ASBL. (Odette)

How can anything I write top that?

One additional thing I cherish about our work together is that it is grass-roots. I may be the president of the board, but the Princess Club was begun by four students who worked at VBS, relaxed by Lake Kivu sitting in the grass and the idea (homepage photo).

Someone in the US donated a guitar, but it was a young man at the center who picked it up and said, “I’ll teach the children music classes”–and he did and wants to do more.

It’s the Princesses who decided to write a handbook for the club to pass on to younger people, for others to take to university. They have the ideas and do the work, and we support them.

Many organizations could not work with this sort of flexibility. Perhaps we are able because we are small. But we also see God’s direction in what He lays before us, the opportunities that grow organically as we reach into community.

It is always amazing me, and never more so than when I visited East Congo.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

Visit Future Hope Africa for more information about our mission.

Visit Future Hope Africa for more information about our mission.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2015 in A to Z Blog, East Congo, Travel

 

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O is for Ogling

Spotted on drive through Rwandan national preserve. This fella gets his own post later ;-)

Spotted on drive through Rwandan national preserve.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Last year during the A to Z challenge, I posted “O is for Oops” because I forgot to blog a day. With my “Back to Africa” theme I’ve also found myself behind at this point. So if you want to read more about “Ogling” the white woman in Africa go to my link here. Otherwise, set your eyes on these photos for today including more of Lake Kivu.

May you find inspiration to live life to the fullest as you ogle creation!

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Another Lake Kivu view–skim back to “L is for Lake Kivu” for more.

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Why parts of Rwanda reminded me of Tuscany.

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I should blog about the eucalyptus tree “orchard” later.

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Do you wonder what lies over the next hill?

From our hosts' balcony--I could wake up to this every morning.

From our hosts’ balcony–I could wake up to this every morning.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2015 in A to Z Blog, East Congo, Travel

 

N is for Nutrition – What I Ate in Africa

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Congo Dinner

White ugali, fresh mikeke fish with onions and peppers, green peas, and fried plantains.

In two weeks we eat a lot without really noting what all the meals are–unless you’re traveling in Africa. Then, if you’re like me, you take photos of almost every meal. Later I think, Wow. I ate so much, and so much better than I do at home. Nutritious greens, fresh meat, onions, peppers–the list goes on and on. Our hosts took great care of our mission team.

Since you probably don’t want to see every meal, this post is more of an overview. The hot water carafe greeted me every morning, the largest such I’ve ever seen or used outside a hotel. Seriously, the carafe is about 18 inches tall seems to keep the water piping. I want to take one home.From there

Lunch on the go--we select a stick of roasted goat and corn on the cob.

Lunch on the go–we select a stick of roasted goat and corn on the cob.

breakfast includes bread sliced from round loaves, or rectangular, peanut butter to spread, maybe a little sweet white cream spread (the nutella like stuff went quickly with the children in-house for the holiday). Some days we have an egg scramble, once with a local hot sausage (sliced like tiny pepperoni) or other times with East Congo cheese from Goma. Left overs from dinner the night before were often set out a well.

Beignets were a special treat for someone like me who, being from the South (USA), appreciates anything deep-fried. And if it’s sweet, even better! I teased my non-sweet-toothed friend that they just needed some Krispy Kreme icing–when in fact they were so perfect the way they were that I dedicated another entire blog to my Beignet Diet (here.)

Usually, though, the staple starches are fried plantain bananas and ugali. Plantains are not a sweet fruit like I typically think of for a banana. These are dense, similar to potatoes that must be cooked to be eaten. The ugali (which means “dough” in Swahili) is a fine ground cassava flour boiled in water to a thick paste which could be shaped when hot and hold form.

To me ugali has little flavor, which is fine since we eat it with a bite of spiced greens or well seasoned fish, goat or other meat. This dough is dear to me because I remember my youngest sons gobbling it up when we adopted them in Kinshasa. They are the reason I know that in Lingala (another national language, more common to south DRC and the capital) this food is called foo-foo.

Snack bag of the red peanuts, round and about half the size of their cocktail cousins.

Snack bag of the red peanuts, round and about half the size of their cocktail cousins.

The greens are made from so many different plant leaves, I have a hard time keeping up. Chopped onions seems to be cooked in, but there is one special ingredient I begin to recognize from sight. If I see it in the greens, I know these will be ones I like better. “What is the tiny kernel?” I ask. Turns out my favorite flavoring is coarse ground peanuts–the local variety that is a red nut and quite small to begin.

Seeing that we eat most everything with gusto, our hosts diversify and purchase vegetables we’ve never seen before. Life on the lake also means lots of fish, and we even have fresh tilapia one day. “I know that one,” I say. Even more familiar, though, is chicken, but I avoid the area where feathers are plucked.

A few of our Princesses come by the house one evening after a youth dinner and see me eating a bit of ugali with a bite of greens. To Bintu they exclaim, “She eats _____.”

“She seems to like it.”

“It is so strange.”

Creamed mushrooms, thin-sliced steak, and boiled potatoes with herbs

Creamed mushrooms, thin-sliced steak, and boiled potatoes with herbs

Bintu explains to me what they are saying and says back to them, “Yes, of course she eats this. I told you, she is my sister!”

They are all so animated, I blush. How glad I am to be caught eating local though those weren’t my favorite greens. Even a meal of something different can be both an adventure and a blessing.

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Roasted meat (?), rice and quartered "egg plant" which was green and the size of a fig.

Roasted meat (?), rice and quartered “egg plant” which was green and the size of a fig.

 

Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
 

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