First off, let me apologize. It was our original intention to blog throughout the trip. However, it became increasingly clear that lack of reliable internet would make that task nearly impossible. So here we are, one week post trip. This gestation period has allowed for deep reflection and hopefully you, the reader, will feel the emotions that I will try and convey over this blog series.
This blog post will serve as an introduction to our time in the Congo. Here it goes!
Eye-opening, emotional, humbling. These are just a few words that have entered by brain space on a consistent basis whenever I think of my time in Goma. Going to a country that lacks nearly all the luxuries of life that a twenty-something growing up in America has, I was in for a rude awakening. We took off from JFK and landed in Kigali, Rwanda after a few connection flights. Kigali is an absolute beautiful city in "the land of a thousand hills!" We had a three hour drive from Kigali to Goma, DRC-which is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on. It's a constant meandering through hills and mountains with amazing views (I wish I had a keen eye for photography, because all of my pictures from the drive do not do the landscapes justice).
After three hours (its exactly three hours...our driver Deo picked us up at 12:00 and at 3:00 on the dot, we were at the border) we got out and began our passport check through the Congolese border. After an hour wait (the person in charge of international passports was "not at his desk") we began our processing, which includes a quick medical screening, examining of our WHO Yellow Fever Vaccination Card, and checking our visas. After all of that, we were on our way to check-in at our hotel.
The hotel is within walking distance to the border, so we walked. It was uncomfortable, but this was the beginning of our time in Goma- a city devastated by a violent volcanic eruption in 2002 and war. I cannot even begin to fathom the resilience of the people of Goma. To continue on with their lives, even when the volcano looms over Goma (with scientists believing it is going to erupt again at anytime) and rebel groups threaten the city- it really encapsulates the motto of "carry on."
Before we even stepped foot at CAMME, the school in which we would be providing our music program to a group of roughly 50 children, both Pat and I knew that our lives would be changed forever.
I'll leave it there for now...the next post will be about our week teaching and playing music with the children. Check back in a few days, and be sure to leave comments and ask questions!