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.
Guest post by Sandra Basgall, Catholic Relief Services Central Africa
I may never return to the United States as my new furnished bungalow
in Kinshasa is so nice. I am in a compound with about ten other bungalows and a
good sized swimming pool. My bungalow is separated from the others
with nice plantings and grass, and it feels quite private. There is a
heavy gate with two guards that make sure the residents are safe.
I have three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Now don’t get too excited,
the small bath is just as you enter the house and for guests. The
middle is for the two smaller bathrooms and has a nice shower. And
the master bath has all the comforts of home as well as a nice tub!
There are lovely built in drawers, shelves, and closets in the two
small bedrooms and a large set in the hallway going into the master
bedroom suite. What more could a girl ask for? And there is plenty
of room for guests.