May 02, 2005

Deeper in the woods we go

Day Three
Location: Kalomba
Date: 04/28/05
Hours of Driving: 5

We drive to the region of Kaloma to see the Hôpital Général de Référence (large hospital of the region), the Bureau Central (the central bureau from which all health centers are monitored) and a Centre de Santé (a little health center that is present in every village).

The road from Luiza to Kalomba is slightly more passable. This gives me the opportunity observe the road at length. I find I am enchanted by the sights of villages with adobe bricks and straw roofs, young women pounding manioc into fine white powder, mommies carrying their children on their back secured with a piece of bright cloth while supporting a load bigger than my suitcase on their heads, children playing in the clay clearing in front of their houses and goats springing to get out of our way. The children are fascinated by me; I may well be the first time they see a white woman before.

I am pinned underneath two sweaty armpits –on my left the driver’s, on my right the doctor’s— and practically sitting in the gear box, but smiling beatically at the sunset against the huts, palm trees and the vast expanse of Congo’s brousse.

Note: cliché ahead

But the poverty is staggering. Not a single child has decent set of clothes; the shirts are full of holes, brown with stains and ragged. The smaller children have swollen stomachs from malnourishment, dirty mouths, dirty hands. I see 6 years girls taking care of their newborn sibling while the mommy is out in the forest harvesting manioc. I myself, have been eating fufu (a doughy mix of manioc and corn flour), manioc leaves and little pieces of meat everyday. I have a more diverse diet than most villagers

That night, we are housed in nuns’ quarters again.

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