Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Congo Trip, part one -- Kinshasa

Well, I'm back from the Congo!

We made it back on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a wonderful woman at the Montreal airport who managed to get us on a direct flight home to Winnipeg (as opposed to having to fly through Toronto first!) I started to feel ill on the flight from Brussels to Montreal and worse still on the way to Winnipeg. I'm feeling better now, though. My nausea has disappeared and my appetite has returned, somewhat. Well, this afternoon, anyway.

Everyone has asked: "How was your trip?" And I have to respond truthfully that it was great! There were some challenging moments for sure, but all in all, it was very good.

I was trying to decide how to share my experience here on my blog... Last trip, I broke it up into days, but this time, I took fewer photos and went days without taking any! (I know, you're shocked! But in fairness, it's very difficult to take photos in the Congo.... especially in Kinshasa. So you have to take them on the sly. And I guess because it wasn't a brand new experience for me, I didn't feel the need to capture everything on film.)

So, I decided to break the trip into the cities/areas we visited, if that's alright with you. ;)

I'm started with Kinshasa, the capital city of DR Congo, home to 11 million people. That's right, over a third of the population of Canada lives in Kinshasa. There are people everywhere. For Mordenites, who don't can't grasp this concept, think Corn & Apple Festival 365 days a year.

We flew into Kinshasa on Wednesday evening, where we were reminded of how crazy the driving is there! Constant horn honking, swerving, changing lanes, etc. We rode in two cabs back to MPH, our hostel, and it felt as if our cab drivers were racing each other!

The next morning, Herve, Edgard Kimbau's son (Edgard is the director of the organization we support in Kikwit) came to the hostel and we enlisted his help in going with us into Kitambo (the neighbourhood where we stay) to change money, buy phone cards and visit the MB office.

Then, it was back to MPH to relax a little:

On Friday morning, we went to visit the widow of Jean Baptiste, a Congolese pastor who'd recently passed away. Three days after his death, she gave birth to a son, who she named after her late husband, calling him JB for short. She has six children now...

Here, Konrad is giving her a blanket made by a woman from our church:

We'd hoped to visit the clinic and the orphanage that afternoon, but it had rained and prevented us from doing so. The next morning, we left for Kikwit, but I did manage to snap this photo on our way out of town..... I love that they have Dora and Mickey Mouse on the side of their building. The sign says: "Good Kids School." :)

When we returned from Kikwit, Konrad and I, along with Murray Nickel and a team of nurses from B.C. went to visit the Bomoyi Ya Sika orphanage. The nurses had brought toys and a basketball hoop, along with two balls, which the kids loved!

Upon seeing a need for mattresses, the nurses pooled some of their money to buy 5 mattresses for the orphanage! Their generosity was inspiring!

On our second stay in Kinshasa, we also visited the Bon Berger clinic, the artist's market and met with members and former members of an organization on behalf of BTEDE. I also assisted two of our team members with going to a Toyota Dealership to buy parts for Edgard's truck and we spent some time in downtown Kinshasa looking for scribblers and pens to take back to the orphanage.

Here are a few more shots taken in Kinshasa...

These two were taken on our third visit to the artists' market:

These two photos were taken as we drove by, on the fly:

And these were taken on our walk back to Bon Berger and the orphanage:

And this is back at the orphanage. I'm holding Ritse.

One of the men that I traveled to Congo with in 2010 asked me on Sunday at church: "So, have they cleaned it up?" Meaning, is there less garbage around everywhere. Unfortunately, they hadn't, but I didn't seem to notice it that much this trip. I think this trip, I was more captivated by the people, rather than the surroundings. When things would happen, I'd feel a kind of affection for the people there, because they do live in very hard circumstances, something I'll never likely experience personally.

Thanks for looking!


nancy said...

Thanks so much for sharing some of your experience, Leigh. This is a trip that I know I'll never make and appreciate being able to learn about another part of the world from someone whose perspective is a little closer to mine. Hope that you feel 100% very soon.

merryf said...

beautiful, Leigh! thanks so much for posting your on-the-sly photos -- it sounds like the trip was a wonderful experience for you. Hope you are feeling better.

Deb said...

Looks like you had a fantastic time, Leigh. I had been looking forward to your post. Love your photos! Hope you are feeling better soon!

Joyce said...

Well, Leigh--I just spent some time catching up here at your blog. Your trip sounds amazing, and thanks for sharing those pictures. Such natural beauty combined with such poverty. Your cards and layouts you have made since you returned are beautiful, as always. And, congrats on your World Card Making day win--no surprise there.

Clarence P. said...

Thanks for the blog. I went in 2007 and am going back with another member from our church in Waldheim in Feb. I completely understand about the pictures! One of our crew the first trip attracted too much attention on a rainy day, taking a picture from INSIDE the car. Fortunately the taxi driver bought off the police with a phone card.