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

3.17.2006

even among these rocks

"Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will."

T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday"



It feels like there's nothing to write about today. After six weeks, the suffering and the constant negotiation over every aspect of life is wearing me down. I can't imagine what it's like for the people who live with this for their entire lives - I can easily "escape" for a weekend... and for the rest of my life. People here are stuck with the consequences of a century of greed, bad decisions, and selfishness on the part of the rest of the world. I just finished reading Shake Hands with the Devil, which is Lt. General Romeo Dallaire's account of his experiences as the commander of the UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda in 1993-94. Dallaire repeatedly begged the international community to do something to stop the genocide in Rwanda and was ignored and used as a pawn in larger political games. He refers to the international response to the refugee flow into Goma -- where an estimated 1 million people, many of them participants in the genocide took shelter -- as "too much, too late," which is exactly right. Having done nothing to help in Rwanda, international aid agencies and governments flooded into Goma (too late to stop a cholera epidemic), but they focused too much aid in Goma and not enough in Rwanda. Meanwhile, the leaders of the genocide were quickly able to take over the refugee camps and organized the militias that still terrorize the region today. The world's active decision not to respond to the 1994 Rwandan genocide is a direct cause of the suffering and deaths of 4 million Congolese that has happened since 1998, and for the 1,200 people who die every single day in the eastern part of the country. And every single one of those people has a name.

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