"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


saints don't bother

Nothing is more boring than a weekend in the middle-of-nowhere Africa. Sunday was incredibly dull; I slept late, then it rained harder than anything I've ever seen, and all there was to do was sit around and read and watch BBC World play the same thing over and over and over again. There hasn't been any running water in all of Goma since Saturday, so you can imagine how disgusting things are getting.

Goma is more tense than it was the last time I was here and I am concerned about the safety situation. There are soldiers in the streets (from different armies) and the UN runs patrols pretty frequently. Since I left Austin two weeks ago, 70,000 people have become refugees in the Kivu provinces (where I am). Both rebel armies and the national army are running wild in the countryside, looting and raping and causing lots of trouble. I don't think they'll do anything in Goma; the UN mission is pretty strong here, but I've already been told that it is a very bad idea to go to Bunia, which is 1/3 of my project, because there's open fighting up there.

But, seriously, there are, like, troop movements in the streets. A car full of soldiers will race down the middle of traffic towards some unknown destination and everyone gets out of the way. Meanwhile Mr. Florida went to Bukavu since he couldn't get a flight to Goma, so still no sign of him.

I honestly don't know what to do. I have never felt this ill-at-ease in Africa before. Walking down the street is not fun like it is elsewhere; people are suspicious and I get the feeling that if something went wrong, I would be in serious danger. There are a couple of other academics around, but they are men and it's kindof different for them.

I've written to the Advisor to see what she thinks. I don't want to overreact or quit, but I also am not willing to take undue risks in the name of political science. In the meantime, I would really appreciate your prayers, for my safety and for making good decisions about what risks to take and when it's time to let go.

I'm also hunting for an apartment and having a horrible time with that; if you don't want to pay $1200/month, it's kindof a challenge. Prayers are very much appreciated!


Blogger Emily said...

Laura, thanks for keeping all your loyal readers updated. It's so interesting to hear about your experiences in areas most Americans don't even know. I'll be keeping you in my prayers. Take care.

Monday, February 13, 2006 4:14:00 PM

Anonymous Chrissy said...

I hope this will be appropriately encouraging: "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us." Romans 5:2b-5a

Monday, February 13, 2006 7:19:00 PM


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