Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 44

Kigali, Rwanda
Monday- day 44
June 13, 2011

Sunday was supposed to be our ‘Thank you for ALL of your help, have some food and drinks on us day’ um….. NOPE! The minute we arrived to Muslala where we had invited the likes of: OCHA, UNHCR, WFP, GTZ etc. I was informed (only because I called mind you-) that our ‘confirmed flight’ was FULL and that that two out of three of us were on ‘stand-by’. Hmmm, on a Sunday night, REALLY!? NO ONE works on Sundays, let alone Sunday nights and this was only the beginning. Immediately it was a struggle to call EVEYONE I KNOW here in Congo and abroad to get Plan B and C in action. I would have, characteristically had these in place prior had I not already had CONFIRMATION for our flights. Nonetheless, I called all the peeps I know and tried to work the impossible, even ended up at the UNMONUC office after 9pm attempting to load, print, sign and scan documents only to re-send (the SAME documents I had ALREADY sent 6 times, YES SIX!).

Loooooooong story short, this morning at 730am (after 2 ½ hours of not-so-rest full sleep) it was straight to UNHCR to literally beg for a signature. THEN is was ‘WE NEED A DRIVER’ then it was 10 minutes to 10am and the flight was leaving at 11am however, the UN security gate CLOSES at 10:15am…yeah, so it was a rush against time- literally. Jon and Marisa had gone with Chris to the UN airport awaiting me and the ‘signed documents’ which in order to obtain I had to go to MONUC, through security (never an easy task…) then find our contact there (who was in a meeting) and proceed with the tenacity of a starving lion to find the one in charge of the ‘contact’. Yep, like I said, not a great day, I felt like an ass walking into the office introducing myself with hat in one hand, papers in the other looking frazzled, exhausted and extremely IN NEED. All true btw.
So I get to the UN airport and quickly run to speak with the authorities explaining to them that the MOP (Mission of Purpose) i.e. formal letter of approval is ‘In the system’ yeah, they didn’t buy that. I was, luckily, informed of the name of the person who the document had to be authorized by WHO WAS ARRIVING 10 MINUTES BEFORE WE WERE DEPARTING at the same airport. Found the person, that person signed (THANK YOU!) and again, I felt like an ass lol…we got through, and on board within minutes thereafter. Mind you, we flew on the UN flight which a couple of months ago crashed and 30 people died- all humanitarian workers- ONE survivor. Just to add salt to the wound here….
Arriving in Goma, northeast DRC is about 15 minutes from the boarder of Rwanda. We were most definitely the ONLY ones without a ride to--- who knows where so, asked someone to assist in getting us a taxi to the border (the UN security is TIGHT. That was facilitated and Marisa arranged for someone to meet us at the border (after gong through endless ‘immigration, checks etc.’ we were on our way- all 4 hours of it! Now? We are safe, sound, clean, still hungry- exhausted BUT in Kiglai, Rwanda ready for a good nights rest and to embark on our journey home (that would be all of: Kigali-Uganda-Rome-DC-Texas-LA…for me). Ugh
For now

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