July 17, 2009

We just arrived back from a productive and busy day. Sunday morning is
when my colleague who directs Rama Levina Foundation plays basketball
with his Masters team – so I invited myself along to play- I was in
need of some serious exercise following a week on interviews with
victims and perpetrators of rape – and seeing the trauma of 15 years
of war. I think it is also important to try and make life as normal as
possible when working in a conflict zone. So we met at 9am and played
until 11am. I was so excited to play that I forgot Bukavu is almost a
mile above sea level – so the altitude hit hard at the beginning.
After the game,  I had a focus group with the men on the basketball
team about violence and rape in DR Congo, the reasons, the impact on
women and families and what has to be done to stop the violence. After
the group, several men wanted to talk individually about their
understanding and experience. We set up several individual interviews.
We arrived next to my good friends house – Remy Matima – he directs a
microfinance program and we co- found our microfinance project Pigs
for Peace – an animal husbandry program for rural women and families
who have experienced rape – we have provided 85 families with pigs to
start breeding and raising for funds for food, medicine and school
fees. We have done all this with $4000 – imagine what we will be able
to do with more donations – a pig costs only $50. I will be working on
the evaluation of Pigs for Peace next week – more then. After a
wonderful meal with the whole family – Remy has 9 children.   After
the mea, we had a meeting with the Supervisor of security for the UN
peacekeepers. I met him last Sunday and had a great conversation – he
called me to talk about our research and health care program – he is a
good advocate for our work. He also wanted to touch base on our
security as we had been in the rural areas – we made sure he knew we
were safe and planned daily to return to the city before night – and
we are very safe as I only do what my Congolese colleagues tell me is
safe and they know best.

It was a great day but perhaps the best part – I had a full
conversation with a native French speaker – a Belgium woman here
working on justice issues- and she understood my African French – now
that is progress.

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