Unfortunately, most of what people know about DR Congo includes a history of Belgian brutality, a protracted and complicated war with horrific human rights violations, and extreme poverty.
I want to provide another image of the country and what makes it amazing with a short summary of my top three favorite things about DR Congo.
1. The People of Congo – I have always been impressed with the kindness and generosity of my colleagues and friends in Congo. For example, last night and today, I was invited to dinner at the house of colleagues and friends. On arrival, there was a household of people to welcome me. The minute I walked in the sharing of drink, food (a spread fit for a king), stories, and laughter began. Five hours passed like it was one hour. My Congolese colleagues and friends are gifted at making everyone feel welcome and at ease. After my time with my colleagues and friends, I can’t help feeling lucky.
2. Creativity– making something out of nothing. I never worry when something goes wrong or breaks because in Congo, folks have a way of making something work when we in the U.S. would have long given up or thrown it in the trash. Last week, we were on the road in a rural town called Mugogo when one of our car’s had a dead battery. There is no auto repair shop because, frankly, there are few cars in rural Congo. There are no jumper cables – so what do you do? I never knew you could take the good battery out of another car, install it in place of dead battery, start the car and then remove the good battery, replace with the old and return to town with no problem. Frankly, if it were left to me I would have been walking the 30km to town.
3. Congolese Music– The music of Congo is considered some of the best in Africa. The music can make people stop in mid-sentence or mid-stride to join in with the song or start to move to the beat. For everyone, from the very young to the very old, Congolese music is a source of pride and joy. After a long day providing healthcare in the village, there is nothing better to relieve stress than Congolese music for the drive back with colleagues singing the songs with pride.