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.

Come On In

Post a note, a poem, a newsbit whatever you please.

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.

Santorini Greece, Fiji or Jamaica? 

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