After having worked in Kole for a few days, we leave the city towards Bena Dibele, It is a tiring 3 hour motorcycle ride on roads that are barely passable. Bena Dibele used to be a rather important port in the area but since the pillaging by Rwandese soldiers in 2001, it is bare. Nothing is left in the city but a religious brothers’ residence and village huts. During the whole trip, I hear stories of how it used to be before the war. Even the Bishop’s place was completely trashed, his religious objects sold for pittance, his motorcycle and fuel used to terrorize the remaining villagers while the rest of the population (along with a Spanish sister who has been here for 25 years and the Bishop) were living and hiding out in the forest for months. We pass two bridges that were built around the time of the colonization, in the 1950s, that are still holding up admirably well.
After the 3 hour ride, we immediately set off to work visiting various health structures. I feel like a zombie and look worst I’m sure. All I want to do is go to bed and sleep, but I know these people haven’t been visited for a long time, and my visit gives them something to look forward to. The structures are adorned with leaves and flowers for our arrival and I just can’t bear to let them down. We go back to the brothers’ place after our long day to eat and sleep. I take a shower and marvel at the running water there (they have a cistern on the roof) and notice light switches everywhere but no electrical wire to connect them to the dangling light bulbs. Even if the electrical system did work, they wouldn’t be able to purchase the fuel necessary to power the house.
The next day we get up early, go visit another health structure, set off for the return trip of three hours and work some more until 11:00PM.