Thursday, February 07, 2008

Helping hands

Children in the pits of the Democratic Republic of Congo.We landed in Goma this afternoon. Tomorrow, I head back to Lubumbashi, and from there I will fly to Johannesburg, South Africa for two days of meetings before I leave for home in the USA.

When we arrived in Goma, before going to the office, we made a stop to say hello to Horeb's sister, Claudine, a customs agent at the road which forms a border between Goma, DRC, and Gisenyi, Rwanda.

She was beautiful, and greeted me like a sister. As we were talking, Horeb and his sister froze, and signaled me to stand perfectly still. It was 6 p.m. and they were taking the DRC national flag down.

Whenever the flag is raised (at 7 a.m.) or lowered (at 6 p.m.), all must stand still in reverence until the flag is in place. Otherwise, you could be charged stiff penalties.

I was amazed and inspired. I had never seen such reverence shown in the U.S., but even in the midst of this war-torn country, occupied by many foreigners over the course of its history, a real sense of pride and national unity could rise out of it all, enough to bring everyone to a reverent standstill.

Copper ore, scrabbled out of the dirt by children.And, at this border which has seen so many crossings of soldiers, refugees, and everything in between, all were respectfully still until the flag was neatly folded and put away.

"You must come by tonight and have dinner!" cried Claudine. Now that our adventures were over, Horeb was staying in Goma to finish up other project work.

"You are always welcome, my little sister, Rory," Horeb smiled. "You are family now. Please come and join us tonight."

Yes, I do feel like I am among family here. I do feel at home. So, I promised that I would stop by for dinner. Horeb and I waved to his sister and piled into the car, promising to be to her house around 7 p.m. We continued to wave to Claudine out of the window, but the car would not move. The driver could not get the car started; the engine wouldn't turn over.

Horeb and I got out. "Do you think it needs a jump, or a charge to the battery from another car?" I asked. "No, it just needs a push," Horeb replied. And so I watched as Horeb and 2 other guys pushed the car until it started.

Children trudging through an open pit mine.Horeb smiled, shook the two guys' hands, thanking them for their help; he then smiled at me and we both piled back into the car, waving back to Claudine as we drove down the road.

As I leave the Congo that image stays with me, as a fitting and prophetic way to end this trip -- with helping hands, pushing in the right direction, I know that the Congo will move forward.

Posted by Larry Short on behalf of Rory Anderson in the Congo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are all really just so incredible! I've just read through the entire lot of posts you've made and going from giggling to shock while reading over your stories. Children mining! It is so hard to imagine and I don't have the luxury to see it for myself, your stories are very informative and I hope you continue!