January 1st, 2014
It is around 7:00pm. I'm in Lubumbashi, D R Congo, in my neighborhood near the ISP, the teacher training college and ten minutes away from my residence.
I stop by a gas station, when the gentleman serving me asks if I'm coming from downtown. I reply negatively and I ask what about downtown. He says: " Bullets are flying in all directions there. I saw military jeeps driving by fast towards downtown." Do you see all these people running?, he continues. All of sudden it strikes me that vehicles are driving fast, truly they are as slow as during rush hour, but one could sense drivers are in a hurry. I see the taxi stations nearby full of people trying to catch the very first taxi or taxi bus that would slow down within 30 yards of the station. I turn around to go home and realize that the Biayi Avenue that leads towards my residence is jammed with cars. It takes over 30 minutes to move a hundred yard. The jeep's engine begins to get too hot when I decide to pull back and try a short cut.
Rumors go that a few drunken soldiers have gone "crazy" and shot a few bullets in the air at the post office downtown, then near the governor's office before they get stopped and arrested.
This one appears to be a random shooting without any leader or political agenda behind. All this said, my philanthropic work has always presented risks. This would be the first time I am on the ground when something as serious and as close, happens. Remember the December 30th shootings and today’s. What I am learning is old wisdom, that is our work is trustworthy when the people we serve begin to realize that we empathize with them and we are present during the time they need us the most, not just when we choose to be present, and pull the plug on them when things begin to get out of control. To understand this, we need to remember that in the DR Congo there is a history of the international organizations pulling out when the situation becomes dangerous.