Sophie Blackall Illustration

Drawings and Snippets and Breaking News, (but more snippets than breaking news).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 2 in Bas Congo

Our party of five set off from Kinshasa on Tuesday morning, headed South for the province of Bas Congo. The Measles Project is sponsored by The Red Cross, in partnership with UNICEF, so traveling with me and my companion Ed, were two UNICEF representatives, Charlotte and Medard, and our fearless driver, Papa Sebastien.

We stayed in a Catholic rectory and ate fish, plantains and fufu, which is manioc pounded into flour, formed into large balls and cooked in some mysterious way. I know some of you will be pleased to know the other name for fufu is Boule Nationale.


After lunch we paid visits to the head of the health district, and the director of the hospital, to explain our project of researching the effects of measles on their community and to learn about their immunization practices, so that I can make my drawings.

We saw the local hospital, with a central, communal well; a formerly grand colonial building with overgrown gardens, no running water and limited electricity.

Photography in public places is illegal in DRC so I had to sit on my hands for the drive through the extraordinary, teeming suburbs of Kinshasa, through the rolling hills dotted with palm trees, passing cars weighed down with three times their height in bananas and young men planted precariously but confidently on top, passing children wheeling tin plates with sticks, and women with bowls of leaves like big green headdresses. After the hospital, accompanied by the local mayor, we visited our first village, and just being out of the car and on the ground and able to interact with people was joyous. We visited three families with young children who had had the measles, and the parents were emphatic about encouraging others in the village to vaccinate their children. The average number of children in a Congolese family is 6.3. Every doorway of every house has a child peeping out, or so it seems, and their shyness lasts approximately two seconds.



Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

My parents live in the DRC! They have lived there for two years serving an LDS mission and have been to Kinshasa many times. I wasn't aware of the law that you can't take pictures in public places. My parents do it all the time. Are you still there? I understand the problem with the internet. Power is iffy at best. That sounds like an interesting trip, very educational. Can't wait to see the book it inspires!

Genskie said...

this is a very interesting'll get to learn a lot about other peeps culture and way of living... i would love to be in your shoes :)