Saturday, December 5, 2009


I’m trying to figure out how to get to Bujumbura for next weekend to visit my friend Janine; but it’s complicated, because we aren’t allowed (by organizational rules) to travel on roads outside of cities after four PM. So no cars, no buses. I’m going to try to see if there are UN flights going, but those are complicated too, because even if there are flights, and even if you can get a ticket, they can bump you at the last second for a MONUC guy if they so decide. But once I get to Bujumbura I can crash in J’s hotel room; I can gossip with her; I can see the city, which is supposed to be beautiful. It would be great if it would work.

Last night just about everyone in the group house went out to dinner together, but nobody thought to invite me. Which very much hurt my feelings and I spent the morning feeling very badly for myself. Luckily for me, my supervisor, P, had invited me to go with her on an outing today, so I didn’t have long to wallow.

First we went to an area of the city with a lot of shops with basins, mattresses, fabrics, hustle, bustle, and real true life – so unlike the neighborhood we live. It was relieving to remember that Goma is a real true dynamic city with comings and goings and people. And then we went to pick up A, and together we drove to an orphanage on the outskirts of town. P had spent months working to procure, and finally procuring, a load of scabies medicine and we went to douse the boys. They were darling young kids. We had to get them to wash all their clothes (the clothes hadn’t been washed in about years) and burn their old mattresses (P also bought them new mattresses). The older, uninfected children did most of the cleaning work while A wiped the medicine on the infected boys. After washing the clothes, we boiled them, the younger boys peering out of the windows of their hovel, calling to ask if their clothes were dried yet, sometimes sprinting by, naked and brown, giggling, trying to grab a tee shirt or pants. An astounding amount of the orphans and abandoned children spoke some English alongside French and Swahili and who knows what else.

And then tonight my housemate R & I went on a long walk through the city, got caught in a torrential downpour, and kept walking. It was great.