From here to there and everything in between

July 1, 2009

If the heat hasn’t caused me a few sleepless nights in a row my nerves surely has! And no, just because I am from South Africa (living in the UK) doesn’t mean I ‘should be used to the heat’ (the general response I always get when complaining about the heat).
Anyhow, this is just a quick one as I am due to fly out tomorrow and have loads to sort before I go. Slight change in plan though since my first post as far as ‘getting there’ goes…and more exciting I should think!

Tomorrow nigh I’ll be flying out London Heathrow to Nairobi, Friday morning flying Nairobi to Kigali (with an ever-changing departure time), then I will get a taxi/bus from the airport to Gisenyi by the boarder of DRC (this will be a 3 hour ride through Rwanda…and still keeping everything crossed, quite literally,  that the taxi/bus driver kindly stops for toilet breaks!), then I’ll cross over into Goma, DRC where I’ll be meeting Virginia and spending the night at hers. On Saturday I’ll be taking the ‘speed boat’ (which will actually be a 2 hour trip I’m told) down Lake Kivu to Bukavu (South Kivu, DRC) where the Congolese family (with whom I’ll be staying whilst in Bukavu) will be meeting me. All relatively straight-forward really!

The Congolese family I will be staying with for a bit (kindly arranged by Sœur Helena from the malnourishment centre) sound truly lovely! A family of 7 – Franck & Nicole Mutula (husband and wife) with their 5 little boys (all under the age of 8). I generally hate shopping with a passion, but it was great fun shopping for gifts for all the boys…not quite sure where to fit my clothes now. I also had a surprise call from Nicole and Franck last Saturday eve:
“Philippaaaaaa!! We are so so happy for you to come within our family! Welcome to Bukavu!  What you want for your meal when you arrive?! Rice?”.. no, no please, I don’t want to be any trouble…“Potatoes?”…no really there is no need!…“You want meat!?”…honestly, please don’t worry as I’m a vegetarian…“Aaah! We have many vegetables here for you!! We see you Saturday Philippa! Welcome! Bye!”
Their overwhelming kindness (for welcoming me into their family) does help in easing the nerves I’m feeling at the moment!

I don’t know what lies ahead, nothing is predictable or certain and plans/opportunities change constantly. One moment it is ok for me to do some assisting on volunteer projects at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu (this is the hospital who treat women and girls who are victims of war rape), the next moment it’s not. But I’ve now also been given the opportunity to spend some time in Goma with Virginia’s team as well as staying up in the Virunga forests supporting the rangers who protect the parks and the gorillas.

As a control freak, it’s very hard not to know what is happening exactly when, where and how, but I’m going to take the opportunities that come my way whilst in the DRC and try not to waist to much energy on being disappointed about the opportunities that didn’t turn out as I hoped and just go with it as this is surely going to be one surreal trip!! And I can’t wait!

I’m not to sure how soon I will have access to internet again when I’ve arrived but will of course post something as soon as I can.

All best!

Philippa x

ps. I’ve uploaded a photo I took of my ‘bon voyage’ gift from work: Illustration of me (done by my manager) on my ‘mission’ in DRC, nicely framed with everyone’s messages on the back – thanks everyone at HH! :)

  1 comment for “From here to there and everything in between

  1. Lee
    July 2, 2009 at 7:59 am

    You can’t be a control freak in central Africa. Any control you think you might have is an illusion. In the DRC it’s worst of all. Succumb to the pace of life, accept that everything you are told by the locals invariably turns out to be incorrect, and commit the words to memory – “this is Africa” (South Africa doesn’t count).

    Most important, keep smiling.

    Bon voyage.

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