OK – So here’s an actual attempt – I don’t know what the last blog was – I have bad writing days – bear with me
So when I tell people I’m going to the Congo for my holidays or that I grew up in Congo, it’s sure to raise eyebrows. Isn’t there a war there? Is it safe? When you say Congo – I’m not sure what people think – I guess war or really the dark heart of Africa. It’s kind of mysterious – the Congo – it has Africa’s second largest river that has all kinds of myths and stories attached to it – none of which I am well –read enough to answer. I watched something on National Geographic this summer on the Congo River and it has the weirdest of creatures dating back to the longest of times. It has the rainforests and the bonobos and the gorillas. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve explored much of Congo – oh and when I’m talking about Congo – I’m talking about the DRC. Right. So sadly I cant say I’ve seen much of it – Yet. Security is a huge issue – on the eastern side there are still bouts of violence left over from the Rwandan war. I know – you thought that was over – no – it’s just spilled over to the Eastern Congo. Eastern Congo is also where the gorillas are and apparently its been opened up now – as in the reserves -.
I grew up in a city called Kinshasa – it’s the capital and on the Western part of the huge country. It is densely populated and has a population of about 10 million – if I am not mistaken.French and Lingala are the languages that are spoken here. Almost everyone speaks French here and anyone who needs to communicate here needs to speak French. English will not get you by – and Lingala is the local local language – which will make you one of them J Knowing the local local language is always an asset – people probably don’t rip you off as much and you get to laugh and have fun and be one of them – For example : when I was in Tanzania I would prefer speaking my basic Swahili than English . If I spoke English I would automatically be seen as a tourist and treated as one – ( even though Kinshasa doesn’t have many tourists ) still laughing with the locals and having them help you with their own language makes it a lot more homely.
The one change that has occurred here over the years is that roads are finally being built. Five years ago – only manual cars would be driven here – today automatic cars are being driven here because there has been a fixing of the roads and the cars don’t get ruined as quickly. It’s because of an agreement made between the Chinese and Congolese governments and yeah – roads are being built
Poverty is much more in your face over here too – even compared to Dar es Salaam. In Dar, there were people who would sit on the side of the pavement and ask you for money – mostly women with young children – elder woman. Here , at every traffic light the minute your car stops – 6 kids come up to your window and knock at it asking for money. The new traffic lights are killers – I think its like 84 seconds ( I didn’t count – the traffic light counts down) you have to wait at the traffic light and have to have kids after kids knocking at your window.
I feel like a stranger sometimes – I didn’t before but now that I feel like I want or need to do something constructive here and am not sure exactly where to start – yet today I finally decided to commit and so I went to see the man who runs it and put my name down for a few hours – I figure I’ll start small – teach a little bit of English and then get my footing around the place. So I decided to do a little bit of Friday and a little bit of Saturday ( because I am working and cant really take off as I choose – or shouldn’t ). Yet he told me to start next week which made me a little edgy because I am starting to feel a lot of unrest within me – I waited too long – I usually do with everything – I wait till I’m bursting and then decide something- I try to be patient with myself or I guess I try to put off things because I get comfortable I guess and then like normal people –get jittery about leaving another comfort zone – even though mine change so much. For example Did you know I booked my flight for Tanzania a week before I left or that when I extended my flight booking for coming to Congo from Tanzania I did it the day before and that I booked kili 4 days before I left? So when I went to the man in charge of this insittuion and he told me to wait a week – I kept asking him if there was anything I could do tomorrow or the next day because suddenly I needed to do something in this field.
When my work associate came to pick me up – he was with another one from Angola as well and he was really interested in philanthropist projects and asked if it was ok if we went to the school to check it out . ( I had met with the founder in the mosque that he had built and where he now resides – he is also working on a hospital ) and so we went to see the school again to show him. We arrived a little before noon and the first batch of kids were leaving – some were eating – some were leaving and while the founder spoke to the guy from Angola I watched the kids and just the food being distributed and I really don’t know where I was in thought and then my work associate took me aside and he tells me ( he doesn’t know me that well ) – “ you know you shouldn’t think so much about this – you see I come here and I see it but I can see that you are thinking very deeply and it’s touching your heart too much – it shouldn’t affect you so much. I can see that your face has completely changed since you entered this place and that even your mannerisms have changed.” I think he meant it in a – don’t get caught up in this way – but weirdly enough I took it as a good thing. Cause it just affirmed what I now know – this is my line of work – this is what I want to do forever. This is what my heart beats for. But its true – I haven’t felt like myself for 3 weeks – well for 1 ) I am out of the Kibaha surroundings and can see the changes that have occurred now that I have been in touch with my “normal world” for a long enough period to see if the changes have a chance of staying but I’ve felt an emptiness since I’ve left – I guess not being so in touch with the local public causes that emptiness. Other than giving money on the side of the road – I haven’t had a chance to give or find out what they need or really make a lasting difference or try chip at that wall that never ended in Tanzania – that wall hasn’t even appeared yet – maybe I’m just painting on it now – which is really nothing at this point. ( Excuse the metaphors – they make sense in my head but if they don’t to you – feel free to ask :D) I’m kind of beating myself up about not getting involved earlier but there was fear in my heart lol – I can only change surroundings ever so often and I guess I need to give myself buffer time – or I’m just being chicken – maybe I should own up 🙂
I’m kind of torn right now between working and being a responsible adult and saving some money and just following my heart and traveling and seeing more development projects – for now I’m trying to sit still and do both – discover my very own country and invest and its projects and work. Following your heart – sigh that’s a whole new blog topic on its own 😀 Its everyone’s advice for everything – it seems – just follow your heart – Sometimes I feel like your heart murmurs something – before I left for Tanzania I was having serious doubts about whether I was doing the right thing – that same responsible adult thing was in my mind but I decided to go with it – and the more I listened to my heart – the louder it seemed to speak- it came to a point where I swear it felt like all I could feel was my heart and soul. I was in a place where I literally just had a mattress in my room and shelves – no mirror – nothing – but I could feel my heart beat like I had never felt it. It was way beyond my body – I couldn’t feel anything else – just my heart soaring – it was amazing – I have never felt so alive in my life. So back to normal life – and its not a crash into this life – thank god I’m still in Africa where I can get involved into this kind of work and be reminded of the greater problems of life and attempt not to get caught up in the smaller things. It’s a slow descent on a graph but not a drastic dip at all. It’s weird but I seem to have really calmed down (in the sense that most people know me as having a crazy personality but I haven’t seen that side of me in quite a long time ) and patience may – I repeat MAY have become an attribute of mine. So here I am trying to listen to my heart and my mind – my mind is in control now but I know it’s a matter of time till my heart speaks louder. Inshallah 😀