This place could not be any more different from the Sudan. Instead of a tent, I sleep in a comfortably furnished room in a house. I sleep under a blanket at night, rather than a sheet, or nothing at all. There is fresh fruit on the table at breakfast--passion fruit, miniature bananas, pineapple, green oranges. My skills thus far seem superfluous, and I wonder very often if I am really needed here. My French is rusty, and this adds to my doubt. But thus far everyone has been extremely courteous, even when I have to ask for a translation of the word for "gravel,"or "wheelbarrow,"or "internal order form."
I am in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, this week, getting "briefed"on the considerably complex security situation here, on my organization's activities in eastern Congo, on human resources procedures--how to hire and fire employees, how many days of vacation I get (8 days evey 3 months), on where I am allowed to walk in the city unaccompanied (nowhere). My program assistant has joined me in the city to help bring me up to speed on the banana wilt eradication project and help me develop a work and procurement plan for the coming year.
This week, Bukavu; next week, Goma, and finally, the field.
I am a smidge overwhelmed. I feel safe, and welcomed, and excited. I am just a bit intimidated by the responsibilities that I must assume in the near future, the nature of which I do not yet understand entirely, in a context that I cannot claim to understand at all.
So if my blogging slows down for a spell, that's why. I'll do my best to check in regularly, even if the entries are brief.