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Tag Archives: East Congo

Public Transport – Spotted in Africa

Public transport in Africa is fairly diverse. These were just some of the options spotted in East Congo during my trip to our educational mission. Hop on a cargo truck, take a ferry up Lake Kivu, pay the man hanging out of the white bus window, or get through traffic the quickest on the back of a moped. I confess the only one of these options I sampled was the white bus.IMG_0769IMG_0813 IMG_0809

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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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W is for Water Congo vs. Alaska

It was just one glass of water in DRC, but this is where the taste took me.

It was just one glass of water in DRC, but this is where the taste took me.

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

What I was tasting was rainwater from a roof in East Congo. Where it took me was Alaska right to the top of a glacier. How could that be? Whether it’s bottled or from the tap, our water tends to have any number of additives. Potable tap water is clean rather than pure. Bottled water is often the same. And although rain water can collect impurities as it comes through the air depending on where it is collected, I think our palates are used to the chemical cleaners of the modern age–and frankly don’t know what they’re missing.

For taste, though, nothing can match what I drank from a glacier stream in Alaska. At least I thought nothing could, until my host handed me the boiled and chilled rainwater in Congo. In the same way smells can transport us, so can tastes. What a strange phenomena to be sitting in the heart of Africa and experiencing a glacier at the same 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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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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R is for Rwanda vs. DR Congo

Driving through Nyungwe Forest National Park on the best road I've ever seen in Africa.

Driving through Nyungwe Forest National Park on the best road I’ve ever seen in Africa.

#AtoZChallenge  April 2015 – Back to Africa

The journey to our educational mission in East Congo is six hours long–six hours driving through Rwanda. So even though the Democratic Republic of the Congo is our destination, most of my sight-seeing is in another African nation. Initially I think this is great.

We named our organization Future Hope Africa, not Future Hope Congo for a reason. The Hope we represent does not recognize national boundaries. On my first trip to the Congo to meet my new sons, friends told us that the DRC is not only physically in the heart of Africa. “As it goes in the Congo, so it goes in all Africa,” they said.

On this trip, I’ve landed not in the heart but in the left lung, where people breathe easier.

Rwanda seems bursting with hope. Everywhere is construction–roads and homes and businesses–building today for tomorrow, even in the mountains, this “Switzerland of Africa” they call it. Terraced hillsides full of agriculture line the roads as far as the eye can see, except in the national park.

I see all this cultivation and I am jealous for my Congo, where the mountains grow rebels. Why are these nations so different?

Perhaps when a country rises from depths, from times so bad–not bad–no, evil–such that the whole country must wake up and say “We are better than that. That is not who we are. That will not be our legacy for our children’s children.” Then one voice joins as the nation.

And the world? When the shame of the world that looked the other way as Hutu’s murdered Tutsi’s and even moderate Hutu’s by the hundreds of thousands finally moves from guilt to action, the world doing what it can where the conflict originated–perhaps that makes the difference. Perhaps it makes the work easier in a country where the lingua franca is English?

Like Future Hope Africa on our page (linked here).

Like Future Hope Africa on our page (linked here).

It is never too little too late when people hope for a better tomorrow. –Dr. Kristin King

Despite the work of the Panzi Foundation, the Oscar nominated documentary “Virunga” and the world’s notice of Dr. Denis Mukwege (“The Man Who Mends Women” ), most of the world’s blind eye is now for the leftovers from that very genocide. The rebels in the East Congo mountains, the atrocities continue, the families torn asunder.

My heart is broken.

Tears roll down my cheeks in the mountains of Rwanda.

What must our driver, Papa Justin, think of this strange white woman who takes so many photos, scribbles notes constantly, asks about the flora, and warns (via translation) she will scream with delight if she sees a monkey–what must he think as she sits beside him and weeps fat tears that drip to her shirt?

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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.

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

 

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M is for Melodies of Children

(A to Z April Blog Challenge – Back to Africa 2015)

Remember seeing your child sing with a group? Or seeing your niece, nephew, younger sibling? Can’t help but smile and feel my soul rising on the wings of joy. That’s what today is about. Any melody sung out from the hearts of children can do this for us, when we listen with love and delight regardless of ears.

BTW, I’ve not had good luck with technology and thus haven’t posted video before. However, I really wanted M is for Melodies of Children to be a short clip of the children outside our education center in East Congo practicing a song with motions. Here’s the link to visit if the video won’t play in screen here.

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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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K is for Kamologa

Mrs. Kamologa monitoring the fuel supply for the generator that provides our education center electricity.

Ms. Kamologa monitoring the fuel supply for the generator that provides our education center electricity.

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

A huge part of my trip to Africa was meeting the team who works in country, encouraging them, and thanking them. The people like Ms. Kamologa who are the face of our organization, who believe in a brighter future, who are giving every day to make a difference in their community with the help of supporters.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you Viviane Munyeruku Kamologa (in blue dress above). Ms. K serves as librarian, receptionist, teacher and cashier for Future Hope Africa since 2009. The team calls her Mama Education @sbl. They told me about her during a meeting dedicated to teaching me what everyone does on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

She registers the books, knows what supplies we have where, oversees borrowing and return of books.

With the children she knows every child by name, their problems, background and their parents.

A firm presence offering discipline, she is also the one the children go to with any difficulty.

She is open to everyone and is the 1st person people see and interact with because she works the desk at the front door.

She does everything, and is humble, cleans or does whatever work needs to be done.

A flexible, comprehensive worker.

Shelves of books line the longest wall of our education center in an area of Africa where most schools have no library.

Shelves of books line the longest wall of our education center in an area of Africa where most schools have no library.

When FHA began, people like Ms. K worked for what little we had, sometimes receiving some pay, sometimes volunteering, but always doing all she could. Our group of supporters was small, but eventually we were able to pay $50 a month and be regular. Recently we were able to increase most of the team salaries

Although the pay is a great benefit for those with positions at the center, their families, and the community, the drive to accomplish and do “whatever work needs to be done” is the real fuel behind our endeavors. Ms. K embodies that with firm love for the children and caring for their families.

“When we began,” Bintu Mujambere, Operations Director, said, “Vivian frequently held things down alone [at the center] because I could not always be here.”

Because I expressed a desire to see her son, Vivian had the nanny bring him to the center one day. Robust and wanting only to be in his mommy’s arms, I held the squirming fella who still needed guiding hands to walk.

How precious is this child, full of potential. As Vivian K. gave the bus fare to the nanny and sent her son home, the burden of bringing him in to meet me at the center came home to me. How precious is Ms. K who gives so much for all.

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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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