Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Bliss – Part II

Thankfully, I had some time away from Congo to reflect on my impending final departure when our team visited Uganda for a week-long peacebuilding conference. 

I cannot adequately explain the magnitude of this gathering – if the leaders present live with a portion of the faith they professed in the time we shared together, the Great Lakes region cannot help but change.  I have, however, been burned in the past by people who say one thing in a spiritual setting, but prefer to speak ‘practically’ at other times.  To me, faith is practice.  Only faith can allow a mother, when lobbying for the return of a group of children from the Lord’s Resistance Army, to refuse the return of her daughter because it meant that other parents like her would have to continue to suffer.  Only faith would encourage a leader in a Kenyan university to return to Congo (with his wife – also now a PhD-holder – and their children) to begin a Christian university in an area wheremass killings are routine

The milk of human kindness sours quickly – it offers aid as long as there is no personal cost.

Love suffers, weeps, and dies personally to give life to others. 

Bliss – Part I

I’ll try to make this as concise as I can – partially because I’m weeks behind, but mostly because I’ve forgotten nearly everything.

Christmas break was a wonderful affair, beginning with a ground-shaking concert at our church, led by our incredibly talented band - which includes Joseph.  As usual, we had a late start; as I was silently kicking myself and Timbit for having arrived on time, our worship leader appeared beside my chair to wish me a merry Christmas and smile and not go away. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Loving the Players

The landlord’s housemaids are gradually becoming more loving.  And thus more terrifying.  I try to creep up the four flights of stairs to our apartment without breathing, but am inevitably caught by my name screamed in varying tones of ecstasy, depending on what I’m wearing, if my hair is down, or if I’m carrying groceries.

The most recent order of business is English (though I’ve also been graciously offered the chance to do primary school maths and technology homework); one day the youngest maid asked me in careful English what my name was.

First of all, they have never really understood my name (like half the population here) and offer me vague semblances to which I deign to respond because the alternative is to... talk to them.  Furthermore, I generally dislike my name, but in French, it is unutterably worse – the harsh ‘r’ forever sounds as if people are angry with me. 

“I didn’t do it, I swear!  Please don’t write an Incident Report!”

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Awareness Rising

Over the past 21 months, I have been a part of many meetings, trainings, discussions, and seminars.  The common denominator, in the end, is the firm belief that the real problem is everyone outside the room: from the colonisers, to the Banyamulenge, to the president, to the civil servants, to the NGOs, to the planning/implementation/monitoring/evaluation process of any given project, to the village chiefs, to the villagers, to the gas in the lake.

Everything is the problem.

Everything but you and me.  And I’m not too sure about you.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Highs and Lows

I had made a presentation on biopsychology in French to a roomful of nurses, who learned that hugging releases oxytocin, which is for bonding and trust – not only for inducing contractions.  My sheer determination to not faint in this situation impressed me deeply, if no one else, so I was content.  Weeks later, when I tried to explain to the Medical Director of that health zone that we would like to invite some of his head nurses to a four-day seminar on mental illness (diagnosis and treatment), he was disgusted with the proposed budget.

“Change it to two days.  That’s all that’s necessary.  None of them understand about the hypothalamus anyway.”

Now, I am by no means a highly trained individual, but this is equivalent of saying of a doctor “Oh, forget about the pancreas; it doesn’t make sense to him anyway.”