Saturday, April 10, 2010

FYI - heat index Kinshasa today = 105

UFPPS - Union des Femmes pour la paix et promotion sociale.

Wednesday, Kinshasa. St . Patrick's day.

Mugisa tells me about the UFPPS. They have groups in 2 provinces = Katanga : Lumbumbashi, Kasumbalis, Kalemie, Malemba, Mocambo, Kanyama. Orientale: Bunia, Geti, Komanda, Kasenyi, Sota, Tekele. **Here's a task for the reader. Locate these cities/towns online on a map search of your choosing. Pls let me know the results!!!

There are now 5,043 members of UFPPS. Their activities include farming, micro-loans to women and seminars about HIV-AIDS, peace, reconciliation, leadership, rape, sewing,knitting and embroidery and alphabetisation or literacy. A priority for the women is to learn how to read and write, so they can also teach their children.
The work the UFPPS is doing in the area of empowering women is terrific. Please pray for their continued success.
Parish visits that afternoon, next.

Kinshasa Tuesday

We moved from the brand new apartment to the Centre d'Accueil Protestante (Protestant Guest house). Running water! Ceiling fan! (water works. fan works. therefore I work. QED.)Breakfast and lunch provided! YES! the Archbishop went to the Cathedral for more meetings. I decided to call home. Heard about the huge wind storm and that Andrew's father's car had been crushed by a tree outside THH. Very upsetting... nothing I could do. Powerless.
Late in the afternoon, picked up the Archbishop (Abp) and went to see a house in Masina district which the Abp and his family could live in, were the seat of the province to remain in Kinshasa. (another story, for another time) The neighborhood was poorer than most and the house + compound were isolated. House= 3-story colonial period stucco... grand Deco arches inside and wood lining the underside of the roofs covering the porches. Anyone know the reasoning behind using wood? Anyway. It was clear that this was not a place where Mugisa and the Abp would bring their family to live. It was a bit surprising that the site was even proposed. I was uneasy.
We departed (did I mention it was the hottest day yet?) and even this late in the afternoon we made another stop.

It is called the dispensary. Formerly a one-story hotel/motel structure, the Anglicans bought the building with the intention of turning it into a medical center (think drop-in clinic) for this area of Kinshasa. (it's getting hotter). We enter the building. The roof is gone. Rooms open to the sky. As we walk down the 'hallways' we meet women seated by fires, cooking fish for their children. Many children. the 'hallways' are dim and gray, seems like there is a family or two in each 'room'. It's really hard to even write this; I only spoke of it yesterday to a friend and I cry just remembering.
We continue walking thru the labyrinth of halls to an open area. Several men are relaxing talking to each other. Hard to tell if they are related to the women and children we just saw. Then we enter 'le dispensaire'. Hallways still have no roof, but the rooms do. The rooms are empty and dark. The surgery, the medication room, the exam rooms all empty and dark. I guess the project didn't go forward at some point for whatever reason. Maybe the war. I don't know. I started to dissociate. My thoughts were of going to the Cos Cob Dunkin Donuts to get Coolatas and munchkins for Andrew and I. It was comforting.

Turns out we were going to the dean's home for supper that night, directly from the dispensary. There was no conversation in the car. Everyone looked into the distance, trying to make sense of what we had just seen. We were invited to sit in the living room, while supper was being prepared. Now the heat was overpowering. It was hard for me to think, let alone talk. WE made fans out of notecards until we moved outside to the open-air space and dinner was served. The hospitality was tremendous, meat, chicken, rice, cole slaw, plaintains, cassava, beans, cassava bread...and my friend, Fanta. I wasn't a very good guest. I just couldn't get conversation together. I was and am very grateful for the meal.

back at CAP (the guesthouse) I asked the archbishop for some time off - just a morning or so, to process Tuesday and some of the trip. Graciously, I stayed behind on Weds, when they went to get their passports. No pictures.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Harmless photos from Kinshasa

Top left: the chapel at the Cathedral (Basalacala). Top Right: the view from my window at the brand new apartment. Bottom left: Reverende Edsa (f) and pastors wives exiting the cathedral. Bottom right: a picture of Kinshasa taken in the 1950"s I would imagine. It was hanging on a wall outside the brand-new apartment.
Next post: Tuesday. The hottest, longest, most difficult day of the trip. No photos.

Kinshasa! 14-18

Gotta move along now; this is longer than my thesis! We left for Kinshasa by Hewa Bora Airlines. You kind of have to wait until the plane arrives and refuels before you leave. So we spent 2 1/2 hours in the waiting room, but there was TV! A martial arts movie in Chinese. What can I say? I don't speak Chinese. Nice conversation with Reverend Joyce, who works at Istha. Several good conversations while trying to ignore the TV. Pleasantly surprised by the aircraft - MD 82's - pretty new, compared to the 737's I'd been flying in. The instructions on the plane are in English - and, you guessed it - Chinese. I've said for a couple of years now that the Chinese have a big investment in minerals and other enterprises in Congo. So this came as no big surprise to me. A good flight. Again, no pics. ESPECIALLY not at the airport or of the plane! I respect the gov't's proscription of photos.
OK. After a stop in Kisingani we arrived in Kinshasa at night. There are few stop lights on the road from the airport, yet there are a gazillion cars. And it was raining hard. And there was mud. Glad to finally arrive at our resting place... to find a brand new apartment, 2 bedrooms, a/c and a shiny new bathroom complete with shower and flush toilet! Those who have been to developing nations will understand what a HUGE deal this was for us.
Except there was no running water. So back to the bucket bath, which is a blessing, considering how tired and dusty we were. $60 a night = a good price, but without water... no can do.
Monday: arrived at the Cathedral (also known as Basalacala, the street it is on). Much work has been done since August... it's looking gooood. with still more to do.
To passport office. again no photos - government building. Hot? it is hot, Hot, HOT! you can feel the sun burn your skin. Looked for ATM - finally found one at the Grand Hotel - which is just that - GRAND. One of the oldest hotels in Kin just renovated. The emerging problem for me is the cost of airfare from Bunia to Kinshasa, then to pay 360 from Kin to Mbuju-Mayi, then 740 from Kin to Kampala before going home. REalized I have to cut trip short, no "extra" money.
Lunch at a restaurant our driver Claude took us to. I am beginning to realize,by the stares of people, that I am not African. But this is 10 days into trip, so... this should come as no surprise.
Then back to the Cathedral for worship. More in next post. Kwaheri.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gety and Isura - Thursday 11th March

church at Isura being rebuilt (above)

We left Boga for Bunia in the morning. I woke up to beautiful birdsong, thinking that the bird must be very close by. This lovely blue and white bird was sitting in the rafters singing it's heart out. Great breakfast, as always! Clear sky, cool breeze. This must be what Heaven is like. We visited the Diocesan Development office and received a detailed report about progress made and needs to be filled. All requests funnel to the Archbishop.

Porch at Boga, with Archdeacon John and Ven. Byaruhanga Kabarole, dean of Cathedral.

We stopped at Isura. There is a good sized church there, which is in process of being rebuilt. Yet all the people live in an internally-displaced persons camp not far away. It seems there is a militia camped on the other side of a not-too-far-away hill and there were stories of people being dragged into the bushes and raped. When we arrived, we received such a warm welcome! The hospitality of the Anglican Church here is so very genuine and almost overwhelming.
The archdeacon said that in 2005 he hid his theology books in the ceiling of the house where we had dinner (lunch), hoping that the militias would not find them. But the militias burned the roof first, and his library was lost.

We did visit Gety to see the cassava fields on the way home. Next post: Cathedral at Boga

Bunia, the market and Istha.

Arrive Bunia Thurs 11th 5:00 pm. I'm covered in dust and tired. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday brings John on his moto with laptop - needs new batteries. Must find in US. The afternoon is a trip to ... buy a cell phone for me, and to the Marche/Market. Maybe 150-200 stands selling food stuffs - root vegetables have section, likewise grains, spices, fruits and there are meat vendors, chicken coops ... whatever you can imagine. No pics of Bunia, photos strictly prohibited by gov't. If you are caught you can be charged as a spy. Not even worth trying to take pic, I think. The three ladies led me through the streets, past many many vendors. Who doesn't love shopping! Had a good time!

My impression: It looks like Bunia is beginning to thrive. Many buildings have fresh coats of paint. More businesses are open than in May 2008. A new hotel has been built for the mzungus, complete with running water and a/c. I was really happy to see the new life and vitality that I think I saw.
Again I have to thank Mugisa Isingoma and her family, the Archbishop, of course, and daughters who I met there. I'm a little hesitant to give their names without permission, just know that they really made me feel at home in so many ways. And I miss them.

Saturday visit to Istha. The Institut Superieure de theologie Anglican. Seminary and Bible College and pls. forgive if my translation is bad. The pics will probably go to the top of the post, sorry 'bout this... on the left, a group of students and others under a tree after worship (it was HOT hot!) and the new well that has been sunk so the students do not have to go far.

The school is dependent on donors who give what they can, not necessarily what is needed. Canon Sabiti, the dean of Istha, asked for prayers for the school and if possible, to tell others to pray so help wll come. One of the offerings for the pastors wives is pastoral counseling training so the wives can bring these skills back to their dioceses. The tuition is $2000 per year, includes student housing. After a service in the chapel, dinner (lunch) was brought to us. (fresh fish, chips and plaintains... and ... my new love, FANTA.) We had a good conversation about women's ordination, how does that work in the US, are there young women priests in USA? Good stuff. My French is getting better. Next stop... Kinshasa, via Hewa Bora airlines.