Note: This is Sandra's January 22 report from Goma. Next stop on her itinerary is Bukavu. I am anxiously awaiting more news.
Goma in Eastern DR Congo has a frontier town feeling. Beautifully situated on Lake Kiva, one of the African Great Lakes, and the Micumba Mountains, this eastern border town lies along the Great Rift Valley where many of the African Great Lakes are found as well as many active volcanoes. The most active volcano in Africa, Mount Nyiragongo, sits to Goma’s north. In 2002, lava flowed through the center of town for the fourth time in a century. Some buildings that were two-story are now one-story with basements. The lava rock is everywhere and is used for building walls and making into brick. Many of the roads are just lava rock, and this makes for quite a bumpy ride.
It is easier to come here through Rwanda whose border is only ten minutes away than to travel from Kinshasa, and many of the aid workers here never get to the capital as they enter and exit through Rwanda. For me to get here, I had to leave my home at 5 a.m. in Kinshasa for a 9 a.m. UN flight. That morning there were three flights, one to Goma, one to Bukavu, and another on which only UN troops flew.