Wednesday, 9 April 2014

... Hello Congo!

So after a crazy 3 days of travelling I finally made it to the Congo yesterday! I'm so happy to have actually made it this far and even more happy to report that all 12 of my boxes made the journey too!

On Sunday I had a lovely flight on BA to Entebbe - got upgraded to first class and spent the day sipping champagne in what was effectively a big bed! But then on Monday we had a nightmare day travelling to the DRC border because of various problems with the pick up truck (puncture, brakes and then the exhaust fell off) and multiple police road blocks (including being interrogated about my trip and supplies) so didn't make the border by 6pm when it closed so I had to stay in a random village overnight (not the best night sleep I've ever had!). Luckily I was fine and met Kakule and some of his friends at the border the next morning and they got me through ok. I got stopped by the DGM and had to pay $50 to get all the boxes through but was relieved they didn't ask for more.

From the border it was a bumpy 2 hour drive over unpaved roads through some of the most beautiful mountains & jungles I've ever seen. We made it to Beni where Kakule lives early afternoon and he took me straight to a hospital and a church where they support 50 local children with Aids & HIV. I was not exactly ready for this having spent the last 3 days travelling so was a bit shocked. In the end I gave them each something from by box of little toys and a $20 donation to the church.

After that they showed me where I will be staying which is in a room in a secure complex (armed guard at the gate) in the same building as their offices. I'm mostly happy staying there although I have to admit that I freaked out a bit last night when I heard a lot of chanting outside and couldn't turn on the light because the electricity had stopped working so I just sat there with my torch on wondering what the hell was going on thinking that maybe a rebel group had come in the dead of night! They told me this morning that it was people singing and praying!

Last night we went out for dinner at a restaurant in Beni which was nice and has good food (Beef & chips) cooked by a lovely Congolese woman. You don't order - you just get the dish of the day. This morning I was taken for breakfast at another place and had tea, toast & jam, fruit and an omelette and then went to the shop to buy water, coke and biscuits for lunch so I think I will be ok food-wise!

Today we have come to the UN offices to meet them and use their internet which is good. We talked to the head guy about safety and security and he says that Beni is safe, so is Bunia and Goma and the places in between which is good. He told us a couple of places that aren't safe at the moment but we won't be going anywhere near there. 

This afternoon and the next few days we will travel around meeting children at schools and clinics etc as Beni doesn't have an orphanage. The locals all seem nice but mostly they just stare and call me Muzungo (white person!). The guys I'm working with are great though and are really looking after me which is good.

So it's been an adventure so far but I think the worst part is over. I'm just so happy to be here and be able to start meeting the orphans and helping them as best I can.

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