Monday, January 24, 2011

The Light and Dark of Congo - Part I

The Light and Dark of Congo

For the last few weeks I have been struggling to keep up with all that goes into working and living here. And at the same time, I wrestle on a daily basis with how I can sum the vast light and dark of the DR Congo. Unsure how to capture with words or images all that exists here, I have sat in silence taking it in, hoping it would come to me. In life I guess we would not know good if we did not know bad. It is just that here it exists in the extremes. At times I feel I can make a world of difference here and at others I feel I am contributing nothing.

My morning begins with a forty-five min motor cross ride to town. Then a two-hour drive to whatever village we are visiting that day. Sometimes the ride is fine. Other times, as my rear hits the seat with a “thud” my spine compresses and I crack my head on the top of the 4 Runner I want to yell. There are miles of breathtaking mountains and valleys as far as the eye can see. When you turn the bend in the road the forest that has been slashed and burned for farmland. Around the next bend, a young green eucalyptus forest sprouting from the once clear cut land. In the background, vast lush hillsides that look as if no one has ever set foot on them. On the roadside we meet a kind loving man holding his newborn son. This man is the exception; he stayed with his family even after his wife was raped. He also, stayed through the war even though he has been unable to support them “like a man should”. Driving up the road we hear tales of other men who have abandoned their wives and 12 children. They have taken another wife in hopes of starting a better life. We make appointments to assist their abandoned families who now with no property or rights in society, they fight for themselves. Further down the road we meet a girl mother impregnated by rape who would have taken the morning after pill had she known about it, but greatly love their child. Her beautiful daughter who will never know her rapist father is like a beam of sunshine. With a smile on her glowingly innocent face she proudly tells us she dreams of becoming nurses so they can help others.

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