Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back from Kalehe 1

After ten days I am back for a day or two in Bukavu: saying goodbye to Neelan who leaves for NYC, meeting people, sending out emails, and updating the material and off we’ll go again. Many interesting things happened! And I have lots of pictures. But because of too little time, this and upcoming posts will mainly be pictures with comments.

We left Sunday early by public transport from Bukavu to Kalehe Centre – the capital "city" of the territoire Kalehe (Kalehe is sub-unit of Congo’s Sud Kivu province. The territoire is bordered on the east by Lake Kivu). Btw, with public transport I mean one of those small busses that is made to carry 12 people. Needless to say, we were with at least twice that number in the bus. Great fun though! It’s not only much cheaper than renting a car ($100 p/d) or bike ($25 p/d), it’s also much more fun.

We spent the first night in Kalehe Centre with brothers of the local Catholic Church. And Neelan, for the first time in his life, ate the Eastern Congolese staple food: foufou. Let’s just say his body didn’t like it too much.

This is the office of the Buhavu Chefferie. Monday morning we spent most of our time visiting the different levels of Congolese administration. The leader of the territoire has to see and sign your “Ordre de Mission”. And so does the chief of the Chefferie – this is a traditional unit with a king and one main ethnic group. Each territoire has several chefferies. And so do all the other administrative levels want to see and sign your documents: groupement, localite, village, sousvillage, etc.

In the afternoon we arrived in Kasheke - a localite on top of a mountain in which we have worked these last few days. Eustache still knew the chief from a survey he did in 2007, and I still knew the chief from the summer 2009 when we introduced the Voix des Kivus project in his village; so the reception was warm. The picture above is the team with the chief and his wife.

Neelan and I only stayed for three days at the chief’s house. Kasheke is close to the forest from which Interhamwe makes incursions into the village and the word that two white guys were staying at the chief’s house had spread to the forest. So it was wiser for us to stay somewhere else. So after three nights we moved to the bottom of the mountain where the Catholic Church has accomodations and we spent the last 6 nights together with Church's brothers there. This meant that every day started with a 30-40 minute walk up the mountain to reach the village (picture above), and down again at the end of the day. It was fantastic: gorgeous views over Lake Kivu!

A nice story. It's four in the morning. "Knock!" "Knock!" Neelan: “Peter are you awake?” Me: “Actually yes. I can’t sleep: I have diarrhea and had to throw up a few times.” Neelan: “Oh shit man. Sorry. He, the battery of the computer is dead. Could you charge it?” Me: “Sure. Btw, why on earth do you notice the battery is dead at 4am!?” Neelan: “Oh I just woke up as well to throw up.”

PS: And less than two hours later we left the pariosh to walk up the mountain to go back to work again. We really needed the computer that day to do a randomization.

And a cute picture for all the ladies that read this blog. :). Btw, I was doing the same while taking this picture.

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