Hello from Bukavu DR Congo. Bukavu is a city in the South Kivu region in Eastern Congo. It is on the shore of Lake Kivu – one of the deepest lakes in the world. Bukavu was a city of 400,000 when I lived here in 1990 – now the population is around 1 million – as people from the rural villages flee to the city for safety during the 15 years of war.
The research and work with my colleagues from Rama Levina Foundation is going well. I have hired two of their staff as research assistants and we work closely together in completing the interviews with victims of rape and the perpetrators of rape. We communicate in French, but many of the interviews are conducted in the local languages Kiswahili and Mashi among others – I am learning a little of the language. My RA from US, Ginny Carter is helping me with KSwahili as she knows it from her studies in international affairs at UNC- Chapel Hill- as you imagine it is a great help. I also am working with Ben Brinton a medical student at Hopkins who brings great skills in working in Africa and a level of comfort and easy with people that is a joy to observe. Our Hopkins team has been working until late in the night – but last night we took a break and went to a nightclub with our Congolese colleagues and friends to enjoy and dance to Congolese music – which is known to be the best in Africa. It was a great evening with friends and reminds us that people try to make life normal even as war surrounds them.
More later….off to work