Unforgettable first day
Sister Mary-Ellen Francoeur
A highlight of our first day in Africa was an unforgettable drive through Burundi, Rwanda and finally into the Congo. Having been in Africa 12 years ago, the changing countryside and the drive through the villages brought back all my memories of beautiful land and heartwarming persons in the midst of their daily lives. This drive made more real for me the people whom we had come to see. Here they were, walking and carrying on their heads or bicycles the produce needed for their families, working in and around their homes made from the local earth, family members interacting, preparing a meal, and always the enchanting children excited to see our bus, running alongside, waving and calling out to us. These are the people, especially the children, for whom I want peace, justice, a life of dignity, equality and hope.
The border crossings, however, reflected the tensions which exist between these countries, and the attention given to all who cross their boundaries. The hour of our arrival at the Congolese border at 6pm, coupled with a change of vehicles and a transferring of our baggage without our awareness, aroused feelings of insecurity in me as we walked into the unknown. Anxiety was balanced by welcome. Our experience of the Congo had begun. Supported by KAIROS partner, Héritiers de la Justice, we entered into an exploration of the complex issues faced by the Congolese people within their own country, in relationship with their neighbouring countries, and, in fact, with the world.
Sister Mary-Ellen Francoeur is a member of the Sisters of Service and lives in Montreal, Québec. She is representing the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) on the KAIROS delegation to DRC.