Sophie Blackall Illustration

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

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 3 in Bas Congo, part 1

This is me with our lovely driver, Papa Sebastien.
We began our morning at the hospital as it emerged slowly from the mist. Women were washing clothes in an old bathtub and as always in the Congo people were coming and going, including this beatific mother and child.
We went then to a nearby village to pick up a man whose title was alternately Governor, Activities Coordinator or Mayor. He knows all the villages in the area and passes information to the people, of upcoming immunization campaigns and outreach programs to bring vaccines to remote villages. He rallies the crowd with songs about infectious diseases and how to avoid them. I'm serious.

It's rare that I feel too tall in a group photo.

The village was bustling even at this early hour and I was eager to dart down lanes and peep inside open doors, but we had a busy day planned. We made instant friends with children, and seconds later had to say goodbye.

This mural promotes fidelity as a means of AIDS prevention.
We drove about 15km into the jungle, along barely passable roads. People were walking in both directions, laboring with basins piled high with bananas on their heads, or pushing bicycles loaded with sacks of cucumbers. When they saw the car they'd leap aside, pressing themselves into the head high grass. In the wet season, these villages are completely cut off.
We stopped at a school...
and passed a little market...
This boy kicked an ingenious soccer ball made of rags.

We went to pay our respects to the village chief, as is the custom. What we didn't know was that he had just lost his youngest daughter to the measles. She had fallen sick with a fever and rash. They carried her on foot to the nearest health center, but she died within three days.

This is the chief's house. A colonial relic.
This is one of his older daughters.


Sarah Melling said...

What an eye-opening experience you're having. I've long been a fan of your work and a follower of your blog, and I admire your selflessness to take on this project. Your illustrations have such an appeal, both aesthetically and's easy to see why they wanted your talents on this project! Best wishes; can't wait to see the results.

sofia wahnon said...

Me too!
Thank you for sharing with us this experience.

Lori said...

Thank you so much for your sharing this experience. The photos are so beautiful and I can feel your love in the words.

Anonymous said...

So happy I stumbled onto your blog. Thank you for showing us how life is in the Congo. I agree with Lori above, you can feel the love.
Be safe and God Bless