We arrived late Sunday night in the Congo! As we walked off the plane and on to the Tarmac the high humidity hit us straight on -- a huge change from the cool climate of Brussels. Once passing through the thorough inspection of our documents at passport control we reached the small, tight knit baggage claim area where we were greeted by our in country staff with bright smiles and happy faces.
The first thing we noticed was how dark it is at night here in Central Africa. No sea of street lights, just dots of lights scattered across the city, and the main boulevard as we drove into Kinshasa. As we checked into the hotel we were reminded of our limited foreign language skills. They have an app for that!!!! (LOL). Yes, brush up on your French, it will be helpful! The first hotel had A/C, plumbing and Internet challenges. We switched after two nights of frustration and moved to a hotel near the Congo River. That was a good move too, it gave us back our Internet access, reliable toilets and cool air. Hooray, hooray!!
Monday was spent visiting and talking with area orphanage directors, and meeting the children. It taught us how immediate and pressing the need is for nutrition and medicine everyday. We found ourselves quickly at the grocery store shopping to help the directors with food and supplies to meet the needs of the centers' children in providing the much needed humanitarian aid.
Our one-on-one time with the children showed other desperate needs orphans often live with created by overcrowding. While tightly holding my fingers with her little hand, one preschooler we will call "C" walked me around the tiny sleeping area where she and the other infants, toddlers, and older children sleep 2, and sometimes 3, to a bed. The need is always there ... during our visit, the authorities arrived with a new infant, discovered abandoned at the market place, in need of immediate care, and so the center expanded by one to take him.
One exciting moment was when we learned first hand that taking random photos was NOT smart, or acceptable by the man on the street who was offended and outspoken about it in his reaction. Word to the wise...ask permission (in your best French) to snap those pictures you want of the city.
Today was focused on our long range humanitarian aid projects, and foster care programs for children awaiting their parents arrival. One example is the EAC older child sponsorship program we have established. The desperate needs of older children include nutrition, education and health care. While they will most likely not be adopted due to age, their needs are still great. We will have details of how you can participate coming soon.
Tune in tomorrow when we report ...
All the best,
Debra & Robin