8th trip Manuela, 2018
My 8th trip to Tshumbe and 10th trip in Congo
Where do I start? And where do I stop? I begin with my stories and stories of Tshumbe …, then with a subject, I wander or I jump to next and next and next and do not stop any more. My enthusiasm is to be built for the life in Tshumbe, my love to the people there, my will something on and to be allowed to receive my luck, all this with Tshumbe. Tshumbe is no place and also no job for me, it is my life, my heart, my family, "mei Dahoam".
I do not try to indicate in this report any more all details or to do all done, because I think, I would not be able to do this at all. Just from one day in Tshumbe I could write a book because everything is simply so different and runs off, as like in Austria. Every day is an adventure and a new challenge, however, exactly this I love in Tshumbe. This is why I will show a few scenes and facts to receive a small insight into my life there:
March / April, 2018
At the beginning of March I landed in Kinshasa, spent briefly with my man Kerby who worked there on the American message and then flew, together with Magdalena to Lodja to go on then to Tshumbe by the car. Every time I get closer Tshumbe, my heart hits faster and my laughter in the face becomes bigger and happier. I come back – I come home. Magdalena remained for approximate six weeks and this was also very nice for me, because it is really a good society for me and also for all employees and children in Tshumbe. Everywhere with her quiet and friendly kind she is welcome and grown fond. My employees were glad particularly that now, finally, a Volontärin came again back to Tshumbe, because Magdalena was already in summer, 2015 briefly in Tshumbe and has carried off of it also the "Tshumbe fever". She understands the people on site and respects them, everybody has noticed this here immediately and, therefore, has closed Magdalena in her heart. With her unbelievable technical knowledge and her big heart she has enriched our projects in Tshumbe again very much – advanced trainings in kindergarten and school made, me with all possible (as stocktakings, etc.) helped, bought godfather's presents with me, assistance lose the voice with the setting procedure of new kindergarten teacher and new teacher and even a little vocal education with me made (there I every time if I talk to Tshumbe komme-da I simply too much and press, besides, hard on my vocal chords).
I was especially proud on our new kindergarten which has used, unfortunately, much longer for the construction than planned, because of delay of the ship and therefore the building materials (delay of 9 months – but something like that is normal in Congo) which we have completely finished, however, at the beginning of May. He is wonderful and everybody loves him.
With the equipment was important to me that local materials are used, no plastic chairs or plastic tables, but trunks as chairs and an across average of a tree as a table, a soft corner from lianas and even made plays of stones, nuts and being. In this sense I owe ours again incredibly great sponsors, the family Hilla from Aurach with Kitzbühel who have sponsored the whole kindergarten construction and exert themselves with whole heart for our projects.
Once I went with a few my children to Wembonyama, a place 18 km away which has a good hospital. However, the street is there, well, … like should say I, so she would say not at all available. By the motorcycle it is practicable and one drives the hills up and down, crosses bridges which are so rotten, actually, only trunks and already that one only prays, then rises again from the motorcycle and carries the children on the back – then they have leg defect positions and I bring them to the investigation – the trousers roll up and wade by the mud masses and active masses, until we can go on again.
We organised another spot once again a parental discussion with the parents and attachment figures of the children whom something needs in nerves, because many little things which are normal in Austria must be explained here. Always there are many questions and discussions, above all to the child education – in the meantime, I take all that with a laughter, because I know the people in Tshumbe well and know quite well like they think.
Then stories, how from the death of Mathilde's sister shake me over and over again. Mathilde is one of our employees since 2013 and is a very kind young woman – the last year has lost them her man by a sudden death and this year her sister who was torn in Lodja suddenly from the life.
Or also the day in I a phone call of my mother received that we are finally donation-deductible and I was so happy and only minutes later I received a phone call from my man who explained to me sobbing that our dear driver Paul (he has helped me in Kinshasa with purchases and documents of ministries always very much) has died in the hospital in Kinshasa and I broke down before my employees. They cried with me, however, the worst of all one is that also this was a death which would not have had to be, that would have avoided are able, however, such a thing daily in Congo it happens. The days in Tshumbe are always up and down.
May / June, 2018:
After we dismissed Magdalena at the end of April, we already planned for the opening ceremony of our new kindergarten on the 05th of May. It was a wonderful party – many preparations, approx. 400 guests among them also important personalities of the whole province and everybody were / are proud of our work. Before the children then the kindergarten in June to animated ones I still held advanced trainings for the kindergarten teachers around them the new daily routine to give an understanding, to accustom them to the rooms and to rehearse new songs, rhymes, finger plays and to put even didactic materials here. Our kindergarten is, in the meantime, the best of the whole region, most say, the best of the whole province, however, because I have visited not all places of the province myself cannot say I this with certainty, but I also believe it.????
It was pleasing when our tailor Beatrice brought her second child on the world and called the young Kerby, I love it to look after our employees, because they also look after me and visits them always in a birth and am present now and again even as a midwife's assistant, as well as in the birth of the twins of mummy Atshe who had been confined only two weeks after Beatrice. In her birth I went at 14.00 o'clock in the afternoon to the natal station (which is an easy mucky hut) and came at 06.00 o'clock in the morning of the next day at home. Since when there were complications, we had to walk at 02.00 o'clock early in the morning to the hospital where she received a Caesarean section, still in the last second, and surprises twins bore.
Above all I was glad as a limited my husband, Kerby, by the car (he has bought Toyota Landcruiser in Kinshasa) it came in Tshumbe. He needed more than one week for the long journey by chance 2000 km and in the end I had given myself quite big troubles. When he came told he to me that there was no real way (however, of a certain distance) and they went by the wood on a mountain and had to go because again under it, right and left only cliffs. On the streets they saw child soldiers, rebels and in the wood scrared people coming out – without clothes and nothing – fear of the rebels. I was glad as him came and shakes as him said me: „Manu, I has seen so many poor people, according to extremely poor children, this you cannot fancy sometimes.“ And although the children and people already have nothing in Tshumbe, are the people he has seen, even poorer, because there is practically no street to her villages leads.
Kerby had the last years a lot zusammengespart to build up something in Tshumbe and also to build there our private house, for it he brought three his colleagues for the construction from Kinshasa who helped to us to build the house.
Sad events were the visit in Ohambe, the birthplace of my dear friend mummy Aloki. Since by a quarrel of village bosses the whole village is burnt down. All mucky huts of the surface of the earth disappeared, only a few ruined walls stand. A man who lost, besides, his life became easy einbegraben, without coffin and nothing, because they had to bury nothing around him. The family weeping before the ruined house, cry around her son and her village. However, the rest of the village – blank. No human soul was there more, everybody fled in the neighbouring villages. Thus we also visited a neighbouring village, while the family of mummy Aloki Unterschlupf had looked. The people there take up everybody which come, even if they themselves have nothing – it does not stand to the question whether people is helped, this is simply normal. Also the sick person's station in Ohambe was as expected – nothing in it, still more or less standing. However, also before the fire this was already thus – mostly shakes me over and over again that names of big NGO's on it stand which give a lot of money / have, but no money have to control around after where the money really hinfließt and then ill stations originate without roofs, walls, drugs or sickbeds. This is with most ill stations in Tshumbe and the region in such a way, because this time I have visited some and have looked, everywhere almost nothing inside. Our small sick person's station on our area has the best equipment of all ill stations I have seen. Also the hospital in Tshumbe cost me also this time again some nerves: where one is not even treated or is examined, because one buys the medical gloves or receives no syringe although one the drug to be injected has shopped, but has no syringe. Where one comes with malaria to the hospital, but no mosquito net at night, to one before the mosquitoes in the hospital protects uvm.
It had also got me this time in Tshumbe – no illness, because I am already used to the circumstances – however, I injured myself in a rainy morning. It was Sunday and I wanted to boast to me early in the morning (it was about 6 o'clock) a coconut and when I quarried out the coconut meat with the big knife, I rammed to me this with a quick and hard push exactly between thumb and forefinger. First I thought, it would not be so bad, until I the big, deep hole in my hand saw and tried to stop the bleeding and to clean the wound. Finally the wound had to be sewn – outdoors before my mucky hut – at this moment I was really very grateful to my nurses and once again more it became clear to me that I would better have to organise for such incidents because to find just a medical thread in Tshumbe, lasts about 3 stood or more. Luckily everything ran well.
July / August, 2018:
Kerby received an astonishing phone call from the work, they search him, so that he steps in for a colleague in Brazzaville (the capital of other Congo) for one month. Spontaneously resolutely he accepted the job, because we the money urgently needed to continue around with our building of a house, and I also needed to do urgently time around my whole writing work (website, emails, translations, accountancy, plannings, …) So we departed shortly before end of June and did not remain completely a month. Nevertheless, on the 30th of June I already received awful news from dad Fabien – our kindergarten child Ngodelive had died. She was in treatment of tuberculosis, because we allowed to test them in March and then immediately with the treatment in the hospital started (treatment against tuberculosis is free in Congo), Nevertheless, her small body has given up the fight, this is for me a big setback which is connected with a lot of grief.
On the 2nd of July was report distribution and the children were dismissed in the holidays.
Brazzaville was completely different than Kinshasa. One must cross only the Congo river by a boat for approx. 10 minutes and is in Brazzaville, but it seemed to me as if we were in another world. If more like Europe looked out, than like Kinshasa. Very cleanly and organised, by far not so much poverty like in Kinshasa and really very much structured, this was to be seen also exciting how it looks in another African country or another African capital.
After our stay in Brazzaville I did not return again to Tshumbe, however, was able to come Kerby, then had to do immediately to the next job not to lose this – he is / is in Kampala, the capital of Uganda (also here in the American message). Thus I travelled again alone to Tshumbe and started straight away with the work. I cannot explain really what is exactly my work in Tshumbe, but I would say, everything and still vieeeel more. But I love that I must educate further myself in every area around answer everywhere to know – I am an Allrounderin and the most important knowledge is the insider a knowledge I about the years has received. A lot of management, logistics, project management, employee's supervision etc.
Thus I began with distributing the godfather's letters and godfather's presents and therefore of the house visits of the children – what is immensely a lot of work, but to see for me also very importantly around after the welfare of the children. Beside many mucky constructions which we effected this time again (animal stables guard's hut, office, camp, Nähwerkstätte, kitchen, food space and sick person's station I was glad to start running the new sick person's station and to see how the new ultrasound scanner already saved the first patient probably the life.
The Landcruiser of Kerby helped me to bring the children with leg defect positions in another hospital to the physiotherapist's broads investigation and I accustomed me slowly to the driving in the sand – it gives even big pleasure to me. Was also great the luminous eyes of the children (and adult) to see when they looked for the first time a film in our cinema (with a video projector outdoors projeziert) or also the progress of the construction of our new sanitary arrangements (loo) for the kindergarten and the elementary school to see (sponsored by the American message in Kinshasa).
Particularly I have been glad, as Jil Streber, also she came for the second time, us in Tshumbe for two weeks visited. She is from Luxembourg, anthropologist and works for a Luxemburger's broad NGO which have, among the rest, also projects in Congo and there them anyway in Congo "had to go" around the projects to visit, she decided to take two weeks before it vacation and to use this to visit us again. Wonderfully it was to be seen, as well as she could close her godchild Helena in the arms again or could straighten Manuela, to the godchild of her grandmother, best regards from Luxembourg. She made many, besides, it was many godfather's visits with me and dad Shala, big help and also always educated further our kindergarten teachers and teachers. I have been glad very much to have again somebody for exchanging and thanks Jil for it. Incredibly fantastically I thought that she travelled together with mummy Cheda von Kinshasa here here. Mummy Cheda is a great tailor whom I had got to know in Kinshasa and she spent three weeks in Tshumbe in which she educated further our tailors. This was really a very good enrichment for them and I also think for mummy Cheda. She has settled down immediately and has had no problems with the sewing machines without electricity, because she is a Congolese and works even with such machines. The advanced training has enriched our tailors very much and has made right professionals. The highlight of the time of Jil and mummy Cheda in Tshumbe was with certainty the wedding of dad Fabien (our co-ordinator) and mummy Aloki whom they celebrated in the 8/26/2018. For it I played the wedding chauffeur and made available the so-called wedding carriage (Landcruiser). The church was completely full and the song and the dances resounded by the whole village. From the planned journey in the evening to Lodja to bring Jil to the airplane nothing became when we suddenly found out that an airplane has landed in Tshumbe, we jumped in the car and I rest to the "airport". The airport in Tshumbe is an old ruined building without windows and doors and without any materials in it. The land road is become overgrown Sandstreet and there is roadblock none, hence, hundreds of children on the land road were also as us came.
As if went very fast, (unfortunately, many are the drunk Russian pilot in Congo) did not give a lot of information when a friend of me helped us and whirled Jil's suitcase suddenly by the air and landed in the airman, the doors closed a short embrace on parting and already and it went off. I prayed and hoped that everything well went for Jil. When she came in the evening, I was really glad!! After she flew off we still celebrated the whole day the wedding of dad Fabien with many dances and songs, this was wonderful and also once a nice change.
There would still be so much to tell, like the thunderstorms and storms in Tshumbe, the power to the women – against whom I must go forward absolutely more, the electric sound to Internet problems, our new purchase of land of some hectares, my feet and legs which hurt daily, because I put back felt hundred kilometres per day or also of the kindergarten registration for the new year, but I would never finish here.
In September I still remained the first two weeks in Congo, the first kindergarten week for the new children was connected with a lot of tears for the children – then they had to separate from her mummy or her dad, but after the week they had well settled down. It fulfils me with joy the children happily to see. I have concluded the godfather's visits and all together have visited more than 160 children. This year starts with 190 children and 50 employees, I am proud and happily about what we have created again. The biggest challenge for me is still to be concurrent at all places: in Congo, with my man and in Austria I am used – in future I would like to try to gain control to structure this dilemma anyhow and better.
The resignation of Tshumbe was hard, as usual, every year becomes harder this and I hope and pray that it will go well my beloved people from Tshumbe. In Kinshasa I spent five days, did still some formal visits and necessary purchases and looked after Marc. Marc is one of our school children, it is an albino and I have sent him with his father to Kinshasa for the treatment, because he has cancer of the skin. He lives there now with our medicine student Jules who also looks well after the boy. With Marc we had to make many investigations and, therefore, by half Kinshasa drive around in the hospital that test to make and to make that investigation in the other ill house. I hope and also pray for Marc that he gets over this time and soon is able again back to Tshumbe.
After my time in Congo I flew at the middle of September to Uganda, to my man. Here I use the time around for example this report to write, to write annual report, to effect accountancy, project inquiries, godfather's letters translate, photo albums organise etc. Immediately in the evening as me came, I was surprised very positively which saw what I, was completely different than in Congo and this my next time also confirmed here in Uganda. The surprise was positive, because Uganda is in comparison to Congo a lot, develops a lot and is built up. I think I will take from this country and the people also some tips and experiences with in Congo and can expect my next trip to Tshumbe already hardly.
Once a friend from my anthropology study said to me: „Manu, you have not only a Full time job, but a Full life job“ Yes, and she has in any manner quite surely with it, because Tshumbe takes my life completely with no matter whether I am there or not, Tshumbe is always with me and I do everything for Tshumbe. For me there are no regulated working hours – then for Tshumbe I am there always. If I there am I work seven days the week in each case 16 hours at least and at the end I am often exhausted, it is above all my head with the whole problems and difficulties. However, I love the country and the people and Tshumbe is a part of me and I am a part of it. I owe all unbelievable person in Tshumbe which take up me so wonderfully and accept and thanks to all our supporters for her trust in me and my team! Thank you very much!