Sunday, July 29, 2012
This Saturday, we had a bed and clothing party at the orphanage. The little orphanage needs so much, and has so little. The owner of the orphanage has a heart the size of the continent of Africa. Earlier this year when we first visited the orphanage, we assessed the great need. One of the adoption agencies from the US was with us on that trip. We knew that we wanted to do something. As missionaries we are limited in the scope of what we can do. The adoption agency representative, a truly wonderful women, took it upon herself to raise money to repair the building so a school could be maintained in an acceptable room. She is continuing with that project. She was at the orphanage on Saturday, and we met the engineer who is competing her project who was also there. During our first visit determined at that time to do something. Since the children were sleeping on the ground, we thought we could make beds for them. Elder Billings, the construction program missionary said under his direction, we could make beds for them. The sisters decided to make clothing for the kids. Saturday, the beds and clothing were finished and we took them out. Five bunk beds and a new outfit for each child. The following is a pictorial glimpse of the project. Under a separate correspondence, we have thanked those who generously gave of their money to help finance the project. We thank them again.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Many basic infrastructure necessities are missing here. We are constantly amazed at the resilience and creativity of the Congolese. Mass transportation is one of the elements of the infrastructure that is lacking. In a city of 10 - 15 million people, the vast majority of whom do not have automobiles, getting from the outlying neighborhoods into the city to work or sell their wares must depend on some sort of transportation. The free-enterprise entrepreneurial spirit has somewhat solved this problem. In Kinshasa there exists an informal or parallel economy. That is to say, with 85% unemployment, people must find ways to feed themselves and their families outside of the normal job market. Transportation is one of them. Since the government has not provided mass-transportation, the entrepreneurs have. There is one very very old train that runs from Masina, the highly populated suburb, into down town Kinshasa. It comes in about 8 am with several thousand people jammed into it, and then goes back in the evening. Most transportation is provided by old beat-up vans. The owners remove the seats and replace them with 2x4 slats. That way they can get 20+ people in a 9 passenger van. It costs about 500 Congolese Francs to ride across town. (that is about $1). There are no set times or routes, they follow the crowds and come and go as they please. For these "transport" drivers, traffic rules are more suggestions than rules. They will come down the wrong way on a street, run red lights (well, anyway, the four traffic lights in the city.) A good rule of thumb for driving among the transports is to ask yourself, "what is the absolute dumbest, most dangerous thing that transport driver will do next?" Then, he will surpass your expectations. Sidewalks are fair game for the transport drivers. Anyone who owns an automobile is automatically a taxi. People line the streets and cars will stop and pick them up to take them on their way for 500FC. Goods are often moved around the city on "Pus-Pus" carts, they too can be a challenge to ones driving. Big trucks (Poire Lourd) are interesting. Some I think were left behind when the Belgians left 50 years ago, some I think, are world war two left overs. All in all, driving here is somewhat like bumper cars on steroids. Suzanne says that I must go to driving detox before I can drive to Safeway when we get home.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
This week we took a Senior Couple field trip to TIFIE farms. This is Robert Workman's humanitarian project here in the DRC. (Google Robert Workman, TIFIE) TIFIE stands for Teaching Individuals and Families Independence Through Enterprise. This facility is about two and a half hours outside of Kinshasa.