Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A little More FUN!

OK who pulled the hair out of my skull? (Below) See the hat? It is the most coveted hat in the E. Congo. Even Callie Lynn & Dr. Jo Lusi's dog wanted the hat. In the final Cherif of Heal Africa got the Obama hat!

(Picture 3 below) Dr.Jo Lusi founder of Heal Africa in Goma Congo checks a child after an orthopedic surgery.

Children in N.Kivu area of the Eastern Congo run through fields towards the foreigners.

UN peacekeepers in the Eastern Congo N. Kivu area with one of their broken vehicles in tow.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Volcanoe (Really)

This volcano in the background is actually called "My Volcano". It's so cool as anyone that speaks its name is calling it "My Volcano". So if you ask Belice, "where are you going this morning, she might answer to "my volcano". Believe me the first couple of times I heard this is confused me. I am rather naĆ­eve sometimes for someone who has been around so much.
As hard as life is in the Eastern Congo, there are some beautiful attributes in everyday life. Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

World Magazine publishes Congo Crisis Photographs

World Magazine sent me a copy of this article with several of my images from the Congo on the inside pages. This is Bedu whose father was shot and killed in Goma Congo.

Follow this blog by clicking follow on the right sidebar. It will link to your site so people can also come and follow you. Check out some of the photo sites from this section!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thanks Professional Photographer's Magazine

Thanks Professional Photographer's Magazine for the interview and talking about my work along with ShootQ in the Congo.
Rangefinder Magazine-thank you for the recognition
and of course
Wonderful play of Bedu in the Congo and thanks for running the pictures in BW.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taxi? This is it in the Congo

They call me a clinger. But I bet you would be a clinger too here in the Congo. When I get on a moto I wrap my arms around the driver's waist and intertwine my fingers. I usually have my camera bag behind the driver's back and my backpack on my back. Trying to stay on the seat takes talent and I am getting it down. This is the taxi equivalent in the Congo at least in Goma,Congo.

We begin each trip dodging volcanic rocks, mud holes,old holes,garbage,branches not to mention the thousands of motorcycles also dodging the same garbage along their way. As the passenger I am rarely actually touch the seat until we come to a stop.

We pass by hundreds of SUV's with AID logos plastered on the sides. It makes me think that the only traffic jam is caused by these giant AID vehicles from Medicines sin Fronteirs,Save-the-Children, USAID, oh my gosh there are so many AID groups here, it is hard not to mix up all the acronyms. Really if we counted you would think that everyone in this country would be well fed and housed in sufficient homes. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Belice and Her Water Can

Nine-year-old Belice with her Jerrycan listens to her mother before heading off to get water for the family. The trip for water includes passing by the CDNP rebel soldiers, and going along paths that bring back memories of her rape.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Belice and Cecile in the Congo

The first time I met Belice and her little sister Cecile we all felt shy. I wondered with the language difference how we would communicate. Belice later told me she never saw anyone so white. Her father said she, her brothers and sisters asked him if I were sick and why I didn't have any color. The baby screamed when he looked at me so the kids and the mother tried to keep his head under a blanket when I was around. He would pull the blanket off his head to see if I were still there and scream some more. I was terrifying to him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Answer

"Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end” St. Valentino

Needing an Answer, A Resolve

From the Congo: You are at
Meet Belice's family.

Nothing is complicated here and yet everything is difficult. Electricity from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. if everything goes right. I am here in the Eastern Congo thanks to ShootQ Rachel LaCour, Andrew Niessen, Mark Adams and of course Dawn Davis,Laura Novack,Jasmine Star,Joe Buissnink.

It's illegal to take pictures of buildings, roads, cars or anything else they (soldiers carrying AK 47s or police) decide what is illegal on a whim. Once I have been detained because a friend took a picture, (not me) but he was Ugandan and it was me, the blonde (rich???looking one they wanted)and just the other day I had to fight for my camera (hey Mark I still have it) to keep a soldier from taking it.

It is 9-year-old Belice and her family who live daily with these terrorists. They live in the northern countryside of the Eastern Congo.
Belice and her family once had a house made of wood, a small herd of goats and farmed their land. When Congolese government soldiers and Laurent Nkunda’s rebel troops clashed in their village, the people ran. Just before this last fighting the soldiers nabbed nine-year-old Belice and raped her. Her father said, “she came running towards the house screaming and crying, I couldn’t understand her at first through her sobs. Then she said, Daddy the soldiers got me”. Leonard, her father says he knew exactly what that means.
He knows, because soldiers have raped 80% of the women in their village. After 3 weeks of living as a refugee Belice, her 4 brothers and sisters and parents returned home to the village. The soldiers had stolen their goats, dismantled and took every piece of wood that constituted their house, and every single possession within their home and farm.
Today they muster resiliency, they believe that things will get better. Then gunfire from an AK47 sprays bullets overhead breaking the laughter into pieces, devastating the hope. It is only a drunk soldier 500 feet from where we stand. No one is harmed this time. Belice and Cecile her little sister stood stunned I pulled them down to the ground. Everyone is OK today.

They ask for nothing from me except for a bible. It's almost Christmas. They pray their baby will not cry from hunger. They pray their mother to be well from malaria.
I am a journalist. Or am I? I cannot say I am today. I am not objective. I am on Belice’s side. Yes I am 100% for nine-year-old Belice.
Today hope prevails. Teachers have committed to teaching even under the CNDP rebel control and without any pay. The teachers will ask parents to contribute soon. For most this will be impossible. Yet Belice's father says, "one day of school, two days... is better than none." Belice will go to school until they are requested to pay money.

I gave Belice a couple of disposable cameras and had the film developed in a city for her. She had never seen pictures. Her face lit up with joy. Her shyness disappeared. She will be strong. I know this. My time is ending here in the Congo. I am not sure how to say goodbye to Belice and her family. I want many things for her and for her family. I want them to have enough food that they are not hungry and I want Belice to have a hiv test. Maybe I’m pushing it but I want them to have goats again and have the opportunity to stay in school. Somehow it seems unfair to say goodbye to Belice and to her family. I know she will miss me. I gave them so little and they have been thankful for too much.

Love and Merry Christmas Sherrlyn

Ducking the bullets and Belice Doesn't Move

Ta....tta.....ta.........ta machine gun fire rips through the peaceful tranquility of Belice's village. We are standing on the dirt road that runs through the center of her village when the firing overtook the sound of laughter. We all throw ourselves to the ground but when I look up there is Belice and her little sister stunned just standing there. I yell at Belice to get down and grab Cecile and pull her down. Everyone is OK. Just another drunken soldier firing off an AK-47.

Destination Wedding Photographer: Ducking the bullets and Belice Doesn't Move

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Trouble Makers

"Every time I pass by soldiers I think, "here come the big troublemakers". Nine-year-old Belice was raped by the Congolese government soldiers. The soldiers stole the goats from her family. The soldiers dismantled their house and took all the wood and possessions they had saved for over the years.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

An Average Goma Congo Street Downtown Goma

Several people have asked me what Goma downtown looks like. Well first of all it is illegal to take pictures of buildings, public places or anything else the police, military or guards decide is illegal on the spot. One can pay $250 for a piece of paper which says it is OK to take pictures but the problem with the paper is that it is useless.
I decided to brave it and grab a street picture. This is not the worse street and it is not the absolute best. The total amount of paved streets around Goma must be a total of 1 mile and they are covered in rocks and potholes.

No Pay. No Promises. Teachers Return


No pay. No promises. Teachers in N. Kivu return to work under Laurent Nkunda's rebels who have taken control of much of the N. Kivu area. They hope that the government will pay them but say they doubt they will because the area is controlled by Nkunda's rebel group. They also fear being accused of anarchy.

UN India in Congo and Food Distribution

People call them the "blue turbans" Indian UN troop in N. Kivu region patrol an area in the rebel controlled area of Laurent Nkunda.
A group of the Rwanda Liberation soldiers settle on the hill opposite of the UN base in N. Kivu.

Food distribution by Heal Africa to an Internally Displaced Camp. Food is distributed to IDP camps by Heal Africa and many AID groups in the area. Several IDP camps have become permanent homes for many who have run from fighting in the Congo. After settling in many decide to not return back to their native home even after the fighting has stopped. Food is distributed only to those holding the proper ID cards. Those from the neighboring village do not receive food.
Aid groups in the Congo rally to claim IDP camps as their territory.

The Aver

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Goma CONGO Guns Kill

When is it enough? "I have no father" 16 year-old Beda weeps after her father died from a gunshot wound in the kidney minutes earlier. He was hit by a stray bullet Sunday November 9 as he walked down the street in Goma, Congo in Eastern Africa.

Congolese Army and Nkunda's army continue to have squirmishes while negotiations and lack of aid are at a stalemate.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Standing on the Road in Congo

After the Congolese soldiers stole all their belongings Leonard holds one of the children while his wife is at the market to trade for food. Nine-year-old Belice, her brother and sister take a breath from the smokey cooking room.

Two, three SUV's with aid logos painted on the side of their vehicles fly by while I stand here with villagers. The trail of dust covers me and the villagers ( whom I now call friends) shake their heads with annoyance. Their food their homes all covered in the splattered mud from previous SUV's filled with the ever-growing number of aid representatives. While aid groups struggle over who gets what territory, life continues for most in the Congo. "We settle into our homes, fighting begins then we run, when things quiet down we return home," says Lenoard of N.Kivu,Congo. "The Congolese soldiers of Kabilla stole our goats, the wood I had saved for to build a house. They robbed our food, our pots and pans and most important they raped my nine-year-old daughter."
I am standing on the side of the road in this small village in the Congo writing with a pen and paper and will translate to computer later. The dirt road is full of life of village people. They have finally gotten used to my blondish hair and white skin. No one has pulled hair from my head for quite some time. My hope is to hitch a ride back to Goma about 2 hours south from here. This village is nestled between the volcanoes and the ridges of the neighboring country of Rwanda.
Laurent Nkunda's rebel soldiers control this part of the Congo. On the ridge overlooking the village is another group of soldiers from Rwanda. The ridge behind is a ever growing base of MONUC the Indian chapter. In front of MONUC is the Catholic church.

Walk back 1/4 of a mile off the road across black lava rock and there in a wood and cardboard one room house nine-year-old Belice helps her mother cook and do chores.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Never Forget" from Belice CONGO DRC

Belice walks an hour with her little sister Cecile to get water each day. She says that she feels "very afraid when I see a soldier". Belice says she thinks about what a soldier did to her all the time. (Nine-year-old Belice was raped by a Congolese government soldier). Belice says, "I never forget".

Belice and her little sister Celice walk an hour to get water. Belice says she feels her heart beating too fast when she sees a soldier.

Picture: Nine-year-old Belice in the N. Kivu area of (DRC) Eastern Congo blows on embers while her younger brother and sister help. Belice was raped violently by a Congolese soldier who she identified but he was not reprimanded in any form.

I am at my computer in the midst of Goma Congo with the welcomed electricity running through the veins of cords that has me hooked up to you, the world. A breeze of gray air filters through the windows cooling me just enough to keep my nose (electricity off but I'm in Word) at the computer. Rhyming words in Swahili along with the kicking of a tin can ring into the room. Ahhh I am so privileged and yet I feel a constant red flag in my heart warning me that because of this fortunate I am also accountable. It's not that I have so much in the US. I drive a worn down 1997 Nissan, have no insurance, live in a 1-bedroom apt and every cup of tea I drink out I think about the ( ahh the electricity is out) so I can continue for 5 minutes on a Mac battery. This is my 2nd MAC by the way and the battery is the same—five- minute endurance. Electricity is back so will post this while I can. Love Sherrlyn Borkgren

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nine-year-old Belize

Nine-year-old Belize in the market with her father. She was raped by a Congolese soldier.

Things We Don't Want To See- Your thoughts?

I just had to photograph this sign. I never like photographs of signs but, IT says, Together we fight rape
What do others think of this sign? I met a girl yesterday who has had 5 surgeries for vaginal fistula. She is doing well. The torture done to some of these women after the rape substantiates that rape is about violence not sex.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Congo Rape

Nine-year-old Belize never imagined what the word rape meant until it happened to her. On her way to school after doing an errand for her parents a Congolese soldier grabbed her, drug her into the bushes and violently raped her. She has nightmares now, fears she may be infected with aids and her father says she has lost her song in life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Caught in Crossfire between Militias

As Militias battle it out for the resources of the Congo innocent civilians continue to be caught in the middle of gunfire and pushed off the land by the various factions. Militia troops at times enter homes killing all those inside.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pleading for Food in the Congo

A Congolese man pleads to aid workers for food. Only those who are in official refugee or resettlement camps are given food by the aid groups. This man pleads his cause of joblessness and a family who is hungry but he is turned away.

Making Big Mistakes

"There is no fear for those who love God"
Getting out of trouble has always come 2nd nature to me. Maybe it is because I get into a lot of trouble. A fellow who is working in the Congo with the aid group,Samaritan's Purse and I went to the border yesterday so that I could renew my passport. It was suppose to be easy simple quick. However when we were leaving the border office my friend took a picture with his point and shoot of the border crossing. Oh boy all hell broke loose.
Before we knew it we were back in the custom's office and the sleezy and sleezier agents took my camera (mind you not the camera that was used to take the picture) and began going through my pictures. With each picture they pursed their lips and tsk tsk and would then say told me the fine just went up another $1,000 or we could go to jail for many years. "How could you not know that in the Congo it is illegal to take pictures? And here you have pictures even of the military" My friend and I did squirm a bit but in the end because God let me see that they were nothing but bullies and hey how do bullies act when they are confronted with strength(especially when God is our my side)?
I got my camera back, my money back, and even was able to save my flash card from being erased. However my visa did not get stamped! Ask me someday in private and I'll tell precisely how this was done. Believe me they couldn't wait to get us out of that office!
Today I hired someone to go get a visa renewed today for me. From now on all pics on my flash card will get uploaded and erased as soon as possible. Tutaonana

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting to the CDNP Controlled Area

First of all the land in the Congo is beautiful. Getting to this beautiful land is across miles and miles of unpaved road. It is full of holes, giant volcanic rocks and what else but thick mud. Not too many things scare me but driving up those one way mountain roads inches from a thousand foot drop practically scared the pants off of me. The driver seemed to be in an uncanny hurry which I would only understand when we tried to cross the front line coming back.

We ended up in the CDNP controlled territory. This is area that is completely controlled by Laurent Nkunda's troops.
I'm always surprised at these type of troops when I see they have the latest model uniform and are well equipped in guns and numbers.
This introduction has urged me to seek out Nkunda himself. Maybe tomorrow? His soldiers, the Congolese soldiers seems anyone with a uniform has orders to not allow their picture to be taken. Honestly I am grateful to go out with aid groups but at the same time they are scared that I am going to take a picture and get them in trouble.
It's a difficult balance. I think they are more sacred than need be but they are scared. When we came back towards Goma the CDNP army had increased dramatically and the Congolese army had also grown since the morning. The front line had now been blockaded with a barrier of logs. We in the vehicle anticipated the options as the Congolose young soldier approached our car. What we didn't expect was his question. He looked at all 4 of us and asked, "Do you have the Bishop in your car". We were allowed back into the Goma with the correct answer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Congolese Refugees Fight Over Supplies

Young men sharpened sticks into spears outside of Goma Congo today. Fighting and rioting took over when aid workers brought brightly colored orange and blue buckets to a desolate refugee camp outside of Goma. The goal of the aid workers was to teach the people at the camp to purify the murky river water. The threat of cholera is high in the Congo although not yet considered an epidemic.
Some of the refugees grabbed the buckets and ran off with them leaving behind the water purification tablets.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It is impossible to download a picture on this connection from Goma right now so words will hopefully suffice.
Crossing the border from Rwanda to the Congo went without incident although it cost a lot of money. Auto drivers seem to suck up a big portion of all money and it is impossible to get anywhere without hiring one.

I connected with Heal Africa and am staying at their lodge. IN another hour am leaving to a village that has been attacked and the militia rebels are said to be overlooking it from the hills.
Of good fortune and many prayers I have had the great opportunity to meet up with 3 bros from ahhh they just told me they must remain anonymous, well, they are going to this village outside of Goma and I am hitching a ride with them. Very good people.
Their organization pulled them out of their regular jobs to send them to the Congo with the motivation of getting into some of the "off limit" areas in the villages of DRC. Who better could I have met?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Funny Way of Making Friends on the Way to Congo

OK this picture was taken slyly by David who sat behind me on the very long flight to Rwanda! What in the world was I doing+0-9^$ and where is the question mark on this computer!@@#$$%^&**
Meet Bahran who is 85 and a man with an amazing history.

Boy I miss everyone in the US. Amy Thank you for that AMAZING DINNER.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Countdown to Goma, Congo

So much is going on in the Congo. I am trying to imagine what it could possibly feel like to be a refugee, to be on the verge of sickness and hunger constantly.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Great Dinner with Friends

Friends in Eugene and I went to the World Cafe for dinner. It felt like the last supper.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Congo Map

Here is a map I found to show the context of the Congo. I will arrive in Kigali to the right and then bus into Goma. Well, that is the plan. Kinshasha is the capital so as you see traveling from Kigali to Goma is the quick route.

Friday, October 31, 2008

How much does this pumpkin weigh?

I guessed 297 lbs. I didn't see anyone able to budge this pumpkin even 1 inch. Ummm not sure I really want it anyway.

My voting

Let's run across the Field of Hope, over the Fences of Complacency and into the Bright Sunlight of a Better Tomorrow! I think I have the measures figured out now so I can vote on them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Get the ballot to the drop off box Today friends

Now Ponder This
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again...who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly ... (Teddy Roosevelt)
Go put your ballot for the elections in the dropbox today friends.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thanks ShootQ for the Best Destination Wedding Opportunity

I won a small grant from ShootQ which will allow me to go to the DRC Congo in November. Thanks to ShootQ I will initiate a story about the women and girls who are victims of the horrid war in the Congo. Soon my blog will change and I'll keep everyone informed as the trip begins to the DRC. thanks Sherrlyn Borkgren

Monday, September 1, 2008


Gerrie & Kevin Choose Sun River Lodge for their Destination Wedding

Sun River proved to be beautiful as usual. My assistant Jeremy and I stayed in the beautiful house of Kathleen which by the way for any interested buyers is for sale.

The wedding of Gerrie and Kevin was gorgeous and very sunny. Gerrie's dress was exquisite and as you can see in the pictures fit her perfectly. She and Kevin enjoyed their reception in the Great Hall at Sun River.

More photos to come soon.

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Thanks to a very cool out of the box kinda guy, Gary Klein who made it all happen!!!!! Yeah Gary
Also Dr. V. Bose my surface hippy friend in Chennai, India many many thanks.

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