Dirt Roads and Tall Grass

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May 2nd 2010
Published: May 2nd 2010
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Dirt RoadsDirt RoadsDirt Roads

The road to Kapolowe and a highway in comparison to the road to Kimboye.
Just a clarification from my last entry’s title ... “This Must Be Just Like Living in Paradise (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” ... it’s a song that we listen to almost every morning in the office. It doesn’t mean that I actually “don’t wanna go home” although I do have mixed emotions on the subject. With that aside ... here we go...

It’s been 2 weeks since we returned from the reunion in Zambia and landed back in the DRC running. Erick got malaria while we were in Zambia and was extremely sick for a week after ... a week that we were hosting a visitor and friend to Hands, Bernard from Germany. Overall the visit was a huge success but after getting very little sleep during the reunion I was not ready to “host” Bernard’s first visit to the DRC.

The reason behind my almost sleepless experience in Zambia is actually an entertaining one ... at least for the reader. On arrival to Kachele Farm in Luanshya, Zambia ... we were assigned the rooms that had been, at random, assigned to us. I was in a room of Congolese pastors ... and Dan Waspe. Seeing no problem
Main Street KapoloweMain Street KapoloweMain Street Kapolowe

Kapolowe is a busy little town that appears out of nowhere. When we first arrived I couldn't believe the size of it because of its location ... it's way off the beaten track.
with my roommates I was off to the farm house to meet all the other conference attendees. Later that night when I was ready for sleep however ... no sleep was to be had ... or at least very little...

It started with the bed I chose ... the mattress was still wrapped in plastic so anytime I shifted there would be a loud crinkling noise to which Dan would whisper “can you stop making all that noise?” I told him it was the plastic covering my mattress and he told me it was for the “special” guests. Disheartened I tried to sleep only to be woken by 4 Congolese pastors loudly greeting each other EARLY the next morning ... this shortly followed by the light in the room coming on. 5:30AM ... perfect.

So for the next 4 mornings the time seemed to get earlier and earlier ... the greetings also seemed to get louder and louder. “Bonjour pastor! Comment cava?” “Très bien! Et vous?” “Oui! Bien!” ... this would continue and the light would come on.

After 4 days of early mornings and the long trip back to Likasi I wasn’t completely ready to be
Tall GrassTall GrassTall Grass

The road to Kimboye ... more of a walking path.
tour guide ... I was ready to sleep for about a week.

With Erick sick and Bernard wanting to experience Hands in the DRC I was given the position ... so with my assistant Ken and our “translator” Celestin we were off for the community Kiwewe in Kambove. There we met our Kambove guide Kabongo Beaudouin ... he is the coordinator of Maisha HBC and also the principal of a school in Kiwewe. The visit was amazing ... I had never seen Kiwewe to that extent. We walked for hours ... up and down streets and avenues ... meeting orphans and patients. As we returned to Kabongo’s school we had a trail of children following us ... laughing and yelling.

Bernard left after being with us for 2 full days. I still can’t believe how successful his visit was and how pleased he was with was we had accomplished. He left on a Thursday and I think the 3 of us slept until Monday ... Erick slept because of sickness while Ken and I slept because of exhaustion.

Since Lynn and James’ visit mid-March we have been looking for a rural community we can start work in.
Welcome to KimboyeWelcome to KimboyeWelcome to Kimboye

Some of the more curious residents of Kimboye come to welcome us to their village.

Erick had been to a very rural area before we left for Zambia and thought it suitable ... yesterday I accompanied Erick, Ken, Celestin, and 2 others from Toyota to this community and was blown away. We drove for 20 minutes down the “highway” to Lubumbashi and then turned north onto a dirt road headed for Kapolowe. Once on the dirt road it took us well over an hour to reach Kapolowe and then another 30 minutes to reach our 2 rural communities. Kapolowe is a town that is in the middle of the bush and seems to spring up out of nowhere. It’s a place where missionaries have been to before but it looks long forgotten ... as we proceeded north out of town buildings turned back into thick bush and the road turned into more of a walking path. Windows had to be closed because of branches and tall grass scraping down the sides of the vehicle. We drove through a couple small villages made up of 2 or 3 houses and then arrived at our first destination. As the dust settled around the “motocar” and we stepped out into Kimboye for the first time the people

Turns out glass on the lens of my camera makes for a great mirror ... it also makes for great photos.
just stared. The 2 men with us from Toyota were known in the communities but Erick, Ken and I were strangers ... strangers driving a “motocar” ... with a mzungu.

The Chief soon showed up and started to walk us to the 4 corners of the community ... he walked a few meters ahead of us most of the time and said almost nothing but now and then would turn around and smile. At first I didn’t know why he was smiling but at one point turned around to see if there was something behind us ... and sure enough ... we had easily 20 children following us around. The more curious would walk by my side and stare into my camera ... the glass on the lense showed their reflections and they were amazed to see themselves. It made for many a photo opportunity and they would pose in the wildest ways and all yell. After snaking our way through Kimboye for almost an hour and the number of children growing at every house we stopped at we were back in the car and on our way to the next village (I forget the name already).

It's a Big FamilyIt's a Big FamilyIt's a Big Family

Erick sat down to get a photo with 4 or 5 siblings living in this house ... then the whole village showed up.
2 villages are only about 1km apart and share a graveyard between them.
As we entered the second village we received the same welcome ... silent stares. We found the Chief of this village after asking around. He didn’t seem too excited to have us visiting but by the end he was all smiles and handshakes.

Both of the villages are on a large lake and depend much on the food that comes from it ... every man in the village is a fisherman and nets hang in many of the trees. We got a chance to go down to the water and meet some of the men and women working there. Everyone wanted a photo with the lake in the background ... also great photo opportunities. On our way down to the water we found a barbed wire fence that surrounds the lake ... apparently someone “owns” the lake and is trying to keep the villagers out. The fence is cut in places that edge the village and no one really cares that it’s there but it made me think about how selfish some people can be. These people depend on the lake for food and yet some
Celestin and FriendsCelestin and FriendsCelestin and Friends

These kids had the best way to pose for photos ... either punch or kick something ... if not feeling like the 3 Ninjas just jump on someone’s back.
people with money want the lake for their own entertainment.

After seeing both villages and meeting many of the people we were back on the “roads” headed for Kapolowe. When we reached the town some of the guys wanted to go check out the market and buy some fish ... Ken and I waited in the car. While we were sitting there talking about what we had just seen a small boy, probably 7 years old, walked up to the car and started playing with the hinges and buttons on the open door beside me. The kids in this area are normally scared of cars because they have no idea how they work ... this little guy, Cedric, wanted to find out. I told him to jump in and he sat down beside me staring at everything inside ... we tried to communicate with him and failed until Ken tried speaking Bemba ... surprisingly Cedric understood. As the 3 of us ate some biscuits and tried to talk the other guys came back and Celestin asked Cedric where his parents were ... Cedric didn’t have parents ... they had left him. All 5 of us went silent ... no
Private PropertyPrivate PropertyPrivate Property

This is the fence that is supposed to keep the villagers away from the lake ... it doesn’t work very well at keeping them out but does work perfectly as a clothes line.
one could believe what we had just discovered ... his parents hadn’t died ... they just left. We gave him the rest of our biscuits and Erick gave him what little money we had with us for food but then we were off. All day we had been visiting villages to help their orphans and out of nowhere comes Cedric...

Again ... what are we doing? We visit places and plan to help but the kids are right there ... right now. We see Cedrics all the time but have no idea what the story is behind these kids. Only when we stop and spend some time ... build a relationship ... can we know their lives and struggles.

As the time of my departure grows near I wonder if I could have done more ... and know the answer is yes. How many days have I sat in the office and wasted time? How much time have I wasted? I’m in Africa wasting time ... and now I’m leaving ... to waste some more time in Canada.

I see myself back in Africa someday ... hopefully someday sooner than later ... and hopefully for a longer
Gone FishingGone FishingGone Fishing

During the day the village empties and everyone hits the boats.
period of time. Maybe I’ll have learned how to use my time more wisely by then.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


A Way of LifeA Way of Life
A Way of Life

Fishing and farming are all this kid knows ... school is too far away and survival is the number one concern.
Fishers in the MakingFishers in the Making
Fishers in the Making

These kids have to walk 3 hours to Kapolowe for school every day so many of them just don't go and hit the boats or the fields like everyone else.

Some of the women working at the water kept asking me in Swahili and Bemba to take their pictures ... I finally clued in and took a couple for them. The kid in between them makes me smile.
The ChiefThe Chief
The Chief

The Chief of the second village we visited. He wanted a photo with the children beside the lake ... just like everyone else.
Lakeside LivinLakeside Livin
Lakeside Livin

Ken making some friends.

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