WEDNESDAY OCT 12. Rough start to the day. No electricity, no running water, no internet connection. While taking my first sip of morning coffee (good coffee), the hotel manager presented me with an invoice. I was a little confused since I don’t leave here for another couple days — turns out, he needed the money to pay for running the generator. A running generator means running water. Glad to help.
Good meetings again today. Research progresses well. Continuing to develop the inventory of non-violent options to address the conflict, and to vet some of the leading options.
POINTS OF INTEREST (from today’s meetings)
– President Kabila may not win the presidential elections in November. The November 28 presidential elections are not a done deal. Perhaps wishful thinking by locals, but they have hope that the opposition
forces may yet unite behind Etienne Tshisekedi – whom the Congolese reverently call, Le Vieil (“The Elder”). While a change of government is desirable due to the omnipresent corruption, insecurity, and lack of general progress, Kabila
is unlikely to give up power without a fight.
– Elementary school is free in the DR Congo, but… parents have to pay for school uniforms,
teachers’ salaries, period registration at the discretion of the school director, and other assorted “fees.” Corruption abounds. Simply beyond the means of many.
– International funding to the Congo is being diverted to the famine in Somalia
– The Congolese Army regularly employs forced labour. Whenever the Army moves or has a new
project, it calls on the local population to build things or carry things. Might require a 30 km walk.
– Rebels integrated into the DR Congo Army are becoming less integrated. I will ask around about this to verify. Would be a bad turn of event. The CNDP rebels had never fully integrated into the Congolese Army and had
been answering to two chains of command: the DRC Army and to their former rebel leaders, but all efforts had been towards greater integration.
QUOTES OF THE DAY (from today’s meetings)
“Bad government affects everyone – corruption, lack of personal safety, impunity, lack of hope. This is the cause of the poverty.”
“Poverty is the protection for Bosco [wanted for war crimes]; it creates his followers.”
“The foreign governments are Kabila’s accomplices.”
“These are very courageous people to survive. Really impressive. ”
Trip to Bukavu on Friday now all settled. Theophile from GRAM-Bukavu will meet me at the boat and we’ll drive directly to the village where GRAM has a child soldier rehab program, stay overnight in the village, then return to the port and I’ll
be back to Goma on Saturday afternoon.
I’ve attached a few pictures.
(John, Miriam, now don’t you wish you were here with me taking care of the photography thing properly.)