The Long Journey Home

In the midst of the long journey home from Africa (about 27 hours), there is still so much to write…I trust the details are in me, undiluted, and that they will flow on to the page when I start to right. For now, I need to sleep. As with my last time to Congo, I got sick on the last day. My body lasts as long as it can, then, boom. Probably something I picked up from one of the kids at Panzi Clinic. Funny, when i think of Panzi, though, what I think about is the fistula surgery, not dripping noses. Upper respiratory tract infections are the leading killer worldwide of children of 5. I will hand with it a day or 2, then see my doc, sleep a lot, maybe take antibiotics, if it is bacterial. I can load up in C, get acupuncture. I have a lot of options. It may, however, be untreatable; it may be grief. It was last time. 

There is a flurry of news articles about Congo, the connection between mass gang rape, and minerals, making news, as well as dark accusations about Rwanda’s conduct in DRC post 1994. They touch on the incredible  complexity of history in the area:

(Since this blog was published, the UN has announced it will with hold the publication of its report for one month.)

This is in French, for my fellow francophones.

But that bad news for Congo is not limited to gender violence. It saddens me greatly that the tragedies there are so myriad.

And, in other African news, John Prendergrast, my traveling companion, publishes this thoughtful, tough Op Ed in Sundays Wall Street Journal.

Sexual violence in Congo: this next story is appalling. I urge discretion before reading. It is a typical story of gang rape, but it mentions ages of victims and goes into a  little more detail about method. It is disturbing, traumatizing, and true.

I am having trouble shaking it. 

The article is important because the narrative of how UN Peacekeeping forces located within miles of the village did nothing. MONUSCO, is it is called, has the most aggressive mandate of any UN presence in the world: Use force, when necessary, to protect civilians.

However, a local NGO (non governmental organization), whose report will be published soon, surveyed 30+ territories in eastern DRC (N Kivu is approx 60,000 sq km.). The questions were: have you been helped, or have you seen someone else be helped, or heard of someone who has been helped, by MONUSCO?

Over 90% of respondants said, “No.”

MONUSCO’s bill in eastern DRC is $1b US annually.

It’s not working.

Go to hopeforcongo.org to immediately sign letters to the world’s 20 top electronics manufacturers, insisting they use a clean (instead of a dirty-rape) supply of minerals in all the electronics we rely on, like the macbook air i am using right now, the ipod that is charging, the iphone that just got charged, and the ipad i will watch a movie on when I wake up from a nap.

What electronics are you using today with tun, tungsten, tantelum, and gold from eastern Congo?