Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 29

Moba, Democratic Republic of Congo
Monday-DAY 29
May 30, 2011

These past couple of weeks have been quite the journey . We finalized all of the new Loan Groups, 7 in Moba Port and 7 in Kirungu, which gives another 70 individuals loans. The businesses range from bakeries to tailoring, duck breeding, fish and carpentry. It was extremely difficult to choose the groups because so many people applied however, we tried to focus on the vulnerable population and those that are single, widowed etc. Also, as we distributed the first disbursements we also received our last installment from the very first loan recipients of the pilot group in December. Thus far we have a 100% return rate and we gave certificates, which boosted their confidence, and clearly they felt a great sense of pride. During the meetings last week a few different groups of women came to see me expressing their interest in assisting the community with family planning, water sanitation and education initiatives. Their need to share with The REEL Project was conveyed in a collaborative manner yet the reality is; they need the tools, assistance and funding. The problem I face is we have very little to offer other than connecting them with an organization that does have all of the above and, more importantly, specializes in the above.
It’s still difficult to hear these groups of women talk about the community with such steadfast enthusiasm and have so little to offer. There is a great need for MANY things here in Moba- in the DRC and, we are few with very little resources. It’s heart wrenching knowing and seeing first hand the needs and not being able to do more… however, we do have to look at the positive side of what we are doing, who and how we have helped so many individuals and the community at large…

A few weeks ago when I first arrived we had a dinner and invited over the UNHCR and MONUC heads of office. During our dinner we discussed various issues pertaining to the area, returnees and upcoming elections. Further to this, we made a plan to hike together Murumbi Mountain, which sits just outside of Kirungu/Moba. It’s so big you can see it from pretty much anywhere in Moba. Yesterday we hiked it. At our dinner there were no more than 9 guests thus, we figured our hike would be an intimate 5-10 people….ha! The WHOLE MONUC came, a few from UNHCR, CVT and of course our guys AND THEIR WIVES! We were over 30 people… At 530am we met on the main road and jumped in one of two of the big UN trucks. Then we stopped at the MONUC headquarters on our way to the Mountain and picked up another truck full of 20+ MONUC soldiers (Dr. and all!). We were up the mountain with a few water stops on the way in 1 hour and 36 minutes! Once on top we had an ‘army style lunch’ which consisted of a lot of boxed food items, bread, tea (which Marisa and I shared out of a bowl….lol), green tea, CHOCOLATE spread, and A LOT of sharing ☺ Then we proceeded to take group photos and sing. The
MONUC guys are all from BENIN so they sang a ‘happy inspirational song’ followed by the Congolese and then we were informed they needed to hear an American one. Marisa Jon, Sara (CVT) and I all kind of looked at each other with blank faces…really, we don’t have one!? The pressure was on so we tried to think of one that we all knew…99 bottles of beer on the wall? The wheels on the bus go round and round…? Finally, we broke out in “I like big butts and I cannot lie, them other brothers can’t deny”…ok, you get the picture. We didn’t get very far because we started bursting out in laughter especially since everyone started dancing to our rap, it was hilarious. After lunch, the singing and dancing we made the trek back down which, was JUST as hard as going up! From there we went back to the MONUC base and had another lunch, retreated back home and today we are all sore, sore sore!!!! It was most definitely worth the pain as the view is not possible to put into words however, I can say with certainty that we don’t really ever need to do it again. ;-)

It’s Monday today and we are supposed to leave tomorrow on the UN helicopter for Kalemie however, there has yet to be confirmation and so we are staying for another week…working on getting some type of confirmation in advance. The reality is we have A LOT to do here in Moba still, wrapping up all the loan groups info and getting preparations for the next few months after we leave, another week will be much easier on all of us. In Kalemie we need about 5-7 days to travel to the various IDP camps and gather info, meet with the heads of NGO’s there and complete some registration forms. Fingers crossed we can get a confirmation and not end up ‘stuck’ :-/

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