So today I came back from work and one of the kids who lives next door to me comes to the door and says ” Come play with me.” So direct I loved it and it’s not like I had anything better to do. It was still about half an hour till prayer time so I figured why not.
I sat outside with them in the very same compound that I grew up in . I literally played on that same pavement that they played on and had my two best friends living in the apartments on top of me and beside me.The kid who called me out was actually one of my best friend’s daughters – my best friend had moved to Pakistan gotten married , had had a kid and moved back into this complex. My other best friend is saving lives in the Philippines ( she’s becoming a doctor ).
So i was sitting on a chair with these kids ( kids are great fun in terms of the fact that they make you forget the scary stuff in your life ) and one of the drivers and the other workers are there and we’re all just laughing and talking. AS the driver talks to one of the female helpers I look at them and am like ” and what’s going on here ” and we all laugh and he tells me she’s like his sister. Even just being here with them is so much fun – to be able to talk and laugh with them. Even being in the car and out of the corner of my eye I can watch my driver’s head bop to the music – it’s the little joys that keep me going here. The kid who waves at me from outside and I wave back or the policeman who salutes at me and I smile back to . It’s kinshasa – this is Kinshasa.
I went from a place where noone knew my name to a place where people watched me grow up in front of their very eyes. Where I enter places and people know my name and I don’t really know them and they all tell me how they knew me from when I was a little kid. If this isn’t home then I don’t know where is.
Right so back to my topic so I was sitting outside and then I heard Timote the driver telling Mama Mami the helper ” On dois avoir l’espoir et savoir que dieu est la” We have to have hope and belief in God because at the end of the day that’s all we have – faith that things will work out.
In Kibaha I was surrounded by people who had utmost faith in God and here it’s not such a direct influence on me but by the Grace of God the people who I do surround myself with or the people who have known me for forever and so my group of friends do have the faith and it’s nice to hear it from them to remind me when I get weak.
Today I went to sit with a friend and she just reiterated it all to me – you make a decision and then you tell God – I am putting my full faith in you – you take me through this. It’s like a lecture I once listened to – how we use God as a spare tire. We have a problem – first we go to our friends , our family , ourselves and then when nothing else works out we fall on the prayer mat asking God to help us . How much easier it would have been to go to the big man himself and ask him to take all our burdens and just tell him that you’ll wait for the storm to pass because there’s probably a reason that storm is passing. The waiting is the hardest part – I read this quote recently- “Sometimes GOD calms the storm. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child.” Ahh patience sometimes its forced on us .
OK so basically my message to everyone is HOLD ON and keep on holding on to the FAITHH ! ( this is a reminder to myself too just by the way )
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
My African Sunset
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 😀
So, I’ve been in Kinshasa, Congo for almost 2 and a half weeks now and I’ve been trying to look at it with fresh eyes –(the fact that I’ve grown up here and have come back almost every year for the last 13 years may allow my eyes to overlook certain things..)Before Tanzania I was bent on doing something here but my heart really fell hard for Tanzania – the fact that there’s already something established there and a team of amazing people probably also plays much favor to it .
I have visited a project here in Kinshasa . It’s a project that has been there for almost 12 years and this year he will have his first batch of kids get through grade 12. It’s a different set up completely in the sense that it is only day school and not a boarding school. They had a 100 % pass rate this year which was amazing. I went to visit it last week.. I went there during an assembly. It’s an Islamic Organization as well and right now we are commemorating the last 10 days of the 40 days we commemorate the death of the grandson of the Holy Prophet. I went there and kids came up one by one reciting poetry about the death of his grandson and their faith was so passionate – it kind of made me emotional..it was a project with heart..with one man looking over it all and a place that probably needed people as much as Wipahs did – if not more..
We went and looked around and there were about 5 classrooms all packed into one block and they were squashed and it was dark. I always thought in Kibaha that the buildings and all were nice but what was happening inside those walls were more important. After I looked at the situation here – even thought this man was doing a great job – there was much work to be done. And even though here I had the advantage of knowing the language I felt fear in my heart – I wouldn’t know where to begin and I don’t know where to begin. I know I just have to get my feet wet and it’ll be fine but getting the feet wet is the hardest part. It’s the first step that’s always the hardest – the booking of the ticket – the signing for your car – the submit button on your application.
I’ve been here for 2 week and have been working and haven’t had a chance to go back to the school. I probably should because normal life is starting to set in and I don’t like it. I find myself zoning out a lot too
So Kinshasa has been my home – I was brought up here for about 10 years – they were the best years of my life and every year I do return but this time I feel like I’m armed with a bit more knowledge than the last and want to do something with it. This is me plucking up the courage to start something here – maybe putting it on paper – telling my closest friends..tellling those who have kept an eye on me through all these endeavors and encouraged me to go further…
Will post up pics asap… I usually either have the pics on me or internet – it’s kind of like electricity and hot water in Tanzania – either or – if you’re lucky both 😀