Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I want to try to explain what it is like to be in developing countries.  The airports have the wealthier people and they are in the the most variety of dress.   They range from completely western to their own traditional costumes. For example, a man was wearing the red checked head scarf  like Arafat wore.  In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we only went directly to the hotel, Le Leopold, and their level of comfort was very nice.  They had individual bathroom hot water heaters which I had never seen.  Then we flew to Kigali, Rwanda, and that night we stayed in a place like a motel but run by a Presbyterian group.  Each bed had mosquito netting over it. Hot water was delivered in the morning by large yellow plastic jugs, with a few bugs in them.  Even without bugs, the water was only for bathing, not drinking.  Drink bottled water only.   Then we were driven over a very hilly road, for 5 hours, weaving to avoid the many people walking along the road, and also to avoid the potholes.   The first time I really felt like it was "third world" was at the border, leaving Rwanda.  We were out of the van, on bare dirt, next to a lot of people who looked poor, were staring at us and weren't even smiling. We were mzungos, white people. You will surely read about Our Own International Border Incident going into DR Congo, from the perpetrator or someone else, later.  Then we went to Bukavu, DR Congo and our rooms, at another church-run stop over, had been given away.  So we went to the Bukavu Hotel which had seen better days.  You could see they started well with nice tile and a glass walled elevator, for example, but apparently were not able to keep up repairs.  The staff was speaking French.  I didn't like it that a little old man was carrying our 50 pound bags around but that's how he makes a living.  In the morning we were driven over a very bumpy dirt road for 1 1/2 hours and finally arrived at Nyangezi.  We were driven into what you might call a compound though I think the barrier between it and the town was a one pole fence.  But the people, including the kids, had apparently been told to stay out of the Poll Clinique compound.  And the people who were there officially, such as the family members caring for the hospital patients, stayed in their own area, mostly by the outdoor kitchen provided for them.  So, whenever we proceeded from our rooms,  we knew we were stared at.  Now for the poverty part.  Even the hospital staff asked us for things, anything.  "We are so poor and life is very hard."  We soon learned that the gesture of moving the hand from the mouth and then the abdomen meant, "Give me something, anything."  The patients did that often.  When we ventured from what I am calling the compound,  there were little boys who surrounded us and gestured for:  anything.  Fred had been in countries like this before and he had brought about 500 pounds (it seemed like), of candy, so he made a lot of kids happy. We'll write more later.  Rachel L    

1 comment:

Trinka said...

It is so exciting to read about the trip - I hope you all keep posting until you can't think of anything else to post. :)