Thursday, March 11, 2010

My trip to Congo, day 5

Day five was a full day. We were picked up early and taken to the BTEDE office for breakfast (long buns, peanuts, bananas, etc. Both Ken and Dennis had brought along peanut butter, which was a very good thing!)

Then, Edgard took us to the local school where we handed out some soccer balls that R.O.X., the Sunday school program at our church, had raised money to buy. The kids were so serious as we presented the ball to them, but once it was tossed out to them, ho, did they smile! They played catch with the ball and cheered each time someone caught it!

When we walked around to the secondary school, the kids all followed us, cheering, jumping and dancing! It was very humbling.

As we were walking back to BTEDE, we met a young boy who had a monkey on a leash.

Ken asked if he could hold him...

...and then insisted that I needed to hold him, too, because my kids would love it. Definitely a first for me!

After our visit to the schools, we drove to one of the experimental farms that BTEDE runs, with a stop at an association farm on the way. You get overwhelmed by the fact that everyone has to work so hard in the Congo and most of the work is by hand. It's tiring just thinking about it, especially in that heat!

At the farm, there was a nice shelter where it was cooler. We had some drinks, with peanuts and fried plantains. Then we took a tour of the farm, where we saw palm trees, beans, corn, peanuts and lots of cassava plants.

Before we left, we presented a soccer ball to the family that lives at the farm. (The extra kids in the photo are ones that came from the village to see what we were doing there.)

This is Brigitte, who works for BTEDE. I loved her. She was always smiling and ready to talk to me-- definitely nice, being surrounded otherwise by only men! In the picture with her is Fabrice, the chauffeur.

When we left the farm, the children ran behind the truck for over a mile if not further.

In the evenings, we'd go back to the Catholic House where we'd have supper (I think this night we had chicken in the same thin tomato sauce with spaghetti noodles and greens. It tasted good until Len found a moth in his serving-- after that I pretty much lost my appetite.)

In the evenings, we'd have electricity from 7 to 9pm, so that's often when we'd shower. The light in my room didn't work for the first couple of days, so I had to shower by flashlight, when there was running water. Otherwise, we'd use the buckets.

We'd spend the evenings sitting outside and talking. Some nights Edgard would come back and join us. We'd discuss projects, etc. Otherwise, we'd just spend time sharing stories and getting to know eachother better. It was a nice relaxing way to unwind from the day and process what we were seeing.

Thanks for looking!

*By the way, if you're interested in seeing how I'm going to put together my scrapbook album for the trip, you can check out my blog post at MSS here.


Heather M. said...

The kids looks so excited to get those soccer balls! Good for you for holding the monkey. What did your kids think?!
Showering by flashlight must have been an experience.
Are you glad you went? Did you learn lots?

Crystal said...

Welcome home, Leigh! I've enjoyed reading your posts about your trip - it reminds me so much of what we saw in Kenya and Tanzania. Great photos - love the ones of the children following the truck. I would be interested in supporting your fundraising for the sewing machines - I'll look forward to more info on that topic. So glad you are back safely with your family!