Friday, November 21, 2008

Into the Heart of Darkness

The Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad...I still remember reading it for one of my high school IB English courses and recall the horror, the intrigue, the curiosity it provoked in me with regard to the mysterious, the unruly Congo. The name alone conjures images of jungles, gorillas and all things WILD....At the time of reading that book, I had no idea that I'd actually be able to travel there....

Next week on the 26th, I am going with a very experienced colleague from MSF to visit some of our projects in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)!!! I am thrilled to have this opportunity to go with MSF and explore what kind of work we're doing there, as well as some of the country, as this is my first time into the 'heart' of Africa. Refer to the link to a map below - I will be traveling, roughly, in the area within the black circle.


Yes, it is a country which has been plagued by war and dire poverty for many years and a country in which there is still an ongoing war and extreme poverty. The current conflict which has been all over the news recently is localized in the North Kivu region to the northeast (closer to the border with Rwanda and Uganda). This conflict is several hundred or even a thousand miles from where I will be (keep in mind the size of the Congo is approx. 1/4 of the size of the U.S.).

We'll be spending most of the 11 days in the 'bush' with no means of communication except for satellite. We'll be looking at how the MSF programs in Dubie and Shamwana are running...I will encounter malnourished patients, patients with cholera, tuberculosis, malaria and a number of other diseases or ailments. You can imagine I've had tons of vaccinations to prepare!

The prospect of this trip is both exciting and scary and will surely be an eye opener into the peoples' lives and what MSF is doing to help those in need there. I fully expect I will be very humbled by what I witness and experience...seeing suffering with one's own eyes, rather than through the television will be...emotional, to say the least.

On a less gloomy note, the added bonus of this trip is that we end with a day or day and a half in Lubumbashi where a good friend of mine is living, so I get to see her! :)

Anyhow, stay tuned for photos! I will try to take as many as possible.