Friday, January 14, 2011 Today we went to Université Protestante au Congo (French; English), a strong supporter of our work in DRC. The GBA Scholars Program was based at UPC and all of the Scholars enrolled at UPC during the first two years of the program while they are completing the coursework for the equivalent of their Masters degree. The UPC faculty and administration have played a key role in establishing the GBA Scholars Program at UPC.
Seeing all our old friends, joie de vous revoir!! Joy to see you again! Samy, our driver for so many years, Teddy and Dongala, with whom we had the best time in 2006! Mr. Mamba, the personification of equanimity, never disappoints me. How wonderful to be back on campus!
A formal meeting with the UPC Administrators was exceptionally productive. It felt so great for me, personally, to give a complete report and evaluation of the GBA Scholars Program and to listen to their excellent advice. The relationship was as collegial as ever despite the fact that our champion, the Rector, Dr Ngoy was not present. I left the meeting feeling as though we had done the best we could with our first pilot (the Scholars Program) and the Comite de Gestion was saying – “well done.” I was, for the first time, able to breathe quietly and feel good about what we had accomplished under exceptionally trying circumstances between 2007 – 2010.
We then piled into cars with the Methodists and PAID staff to visit Mpasa I and the Methodist’s health clinic, and Kindobo farm, PAID's land outside Kinshasa. At the clinic we met Mama Docteur Rebecca, who has been serving as the director of the clinic for 12 years. What an exceptional woman! She taught herself surgery because she had to and even now if she has to do surgery at night, she does it by a flashlight. Amazing resilience, how humbling for us.
Later in the our trip Docteur came to PAID to discuss regular medical visits for the orphans and students and the Mpasa II community. PAID would be site for these health clinics.
Then, off to the Kindobo Farm with . Finally, after 4 years of having heard about this 125 hectare plot of land, I am able to see it with my own eyes. Kindobo Farm is 125 hectares PAID owns and wants to farm. The vision is that the farm would provide a source of food, income and training for the orphanage and school. It’s beautiful but a long ways off the main road and the soil is poor. Still, this remains a min d’or (goldmine).
Currently less than 1 hectare is under cultivation. A local farmer is growing Cassava, a staple food in DRC. The leaves and root, aka manioc, are the edible parts of the cassava.