July 26, 2008 Kigali 


I came back to Kigali this morning and afternoon. Three hours by bus, regretting somewhat the cancelled boat trip on Lake Kivu. Kigali is a breath of fresh air after Goma. The immigration officer welcomed me back into the country and remarked that I was leaving the problems of Central Africa for East Africa the land of ... ...., he left me to fill in the blank. "Pleasure" was my answer and he smiled and thought that was pretty clever on my part. In Gisenyi the border town last night on a walk in the evening, a group of friendly high schoolers surrounded me and began chatting, saying "come to our school". Too late , I said. I asked them what sport they did. Acrobat, they replied. I thought they were kidding til they started doing hand springs down the cinder strewn road. Told them I could juggle and looked for some rocks. All this in French and Swahili. They picked up rocks and started juggling circles around me. They were really good. So then I asked if they could do some magic tricks. Now I was literally in the bottom of my bag of tricks. The last I had was the making a coin disappear. Learned it in the detention center along with the juggling. That one they hadnt seen and were flabbergasted. Even after I showed them, they were amazed when I kept pulling out of their ears. I m certain that one will be done a lot in Gisenyi in the near future. Power of the printed word in the Congo. I was having a discussion with some of the adult students I taught last year. They are the same ones I taught this year. They said they really needed some documentation of their training other than a certificate. One was telling me that he was accosted by police and was being beaten for practicing mediation on the street , without a license. They were beating him up when he was able to get out his wallet and show them my business card that I gave him last year. This card was enough to call off the dogs, so to speak, and they let him continue. Talk about having to be brave to be a mediator. I spent a lot of time Friday trying to figure out how to move on from Goma down to Uvira. A boat on Lake Kivu was an option, my visa would expire before I got down there, and I also had a nice invite from some French people to join them in their vehicle if they could confirm that I would be allowed to travel with them without overloading. Anyway, none of those plans could happen, so I came back over to Rwanda and will travel down to Burundi by bus and then over the border back into the Congo down there to get to Uvira. Then Ill come back to Burundi for 10 days to teach and to help run a regional conference on mediation in the African Great Lakes area. I wont be able to leave until Monday as tomorrows bus was full. Excuse the lack of apostrophes , and other punctuation. They are all well hidden on this keyboard. Fortunately only the y and z are misplaced , and I know where they are hidden. Samuel my host and his son Innocent were most helpful to me on this trip. Samuel is looking for funds for Innocent to continue his studies in Uganda if any of you have any loose change. A few other little things about the past week. Thursday we went to Bulengo IDP camp for mediation. It was between a husband and wife who had split. Wife had a drinking problem and he took up with another woman. She agreed to curb her drinking if he came back. He agreed to 3 to 4 days a week only. He couldnt abandon the new wife. First wife agreed. After the mediation which I was able to observe. The two mediators prayed with the couple and the couple embraced traditionally by grasping elbows. The mediation was held in a large tent that served as the quaker church in the camp. The people came from about 40 miles away and have been there for three years. Refer to July National Geographic for background onthe situation. Heavy rains made it a muddy experience to get there but at the last minute some of us were able to get a ride in a 4x4. The camp was in a beautifully scenic area of volanic cones and incredible crater lake , every thing was green, but rains were really heavy for several days. Not a great thing to be camping. The quakers support their members in the camp with small carpenter shop for earning some money. The man in the mediation was helping dig volcanic sand for use in roadbeds. They cant go home, they have no idea what happened to their possessions and land. The women would be raped if they even tried to go. All the military groups, except the UN do the raping. There were a lot present but they cannot be everywhere. Three days ago a Red Cross truck got stopped by guerrillas and everyone was robbed and beaten and lucky to get out in one piece. George



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