What you never see...
If you rely on the international media to inform you about what life is like in the eastern DR Congo, you're only getting a small part of the picture. Case in point: the changes that have taken place in the city in just the last few years.
I've chatted with several old friends and met many new ones here this week, and one common theme in the conversations is frustration that the story of Goma is not being accurately told. As one put it, if you took the media's word for it, you'd think that every Congolese woman is a rape victim and every man is a criminal. That's not the reality here.
What is? Tons of new businesses are opening, eyesores are gone and new buildings have gone up in their place, and factories are being built. And infrastructure has improved more than I believed possible. The main roads in the central city have been paved:
On those same roads, there are street lights. STREET LIGHTS!
And there are other kinds of needed changes as well, like limited legal services for victims of sexual violence:
Is everything perfect in the Kivus, especially outside of a peacekeeper-protected city? Of course not. But the situation here is far more diverse and complex than the standard m.o. might lead you to believe. And it's not all bad news.