Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 4: Lubumbashi

I am SO tired. Even though I'm adjusted to the natural sleep/wake cycle here (I think...) I am still unbelievably exhausted. Part of it is jet-lag, and part of it is just being immersed in a new culture with a different language 24/7. The language piece can be really difficult because one is used to not really exerting any mental energy on listening, understanding, and responding, but now it takes most of my energy! So far I feel that this experiment in French immersion has resulted in a greater awareness of how badly I am butchering the language. :)

So, we are still hanging out here in Lubumbashi waiting for our car to be ready (ETD is Wednesday, now) but I don't mind at all, because I am getting a "taste" for the city and  enjoying the experience. Yesterday I got to see quite a bit of Lubumbashi-- Mama Mary introduced me to her friend Ilunga and we took a driving tour of the various neighborhoods of Lubumbashi in the evening. It was strange for me because in the afternoon I was back at the orphanage playing with the boys, and then in the evening I went to see that Grand Karavia Hotel which is a VERY nice hotel here. It was again, the emphasis on the contrast-- this is a place where there is so much and so little in the same city. Though I suppose the US is similar in a way-- there are major cities with elaborate and expensive hotels that also have large homeless populations. However my perception is that the "gap" is more extreme here. I don't know whether that is accurate, but it is what I have perceived.

Today, Mary and Ilunga took me to get a phone, so that will be very useful here-- I can call home and call people within the country. But I haven't yet figured out how to buy "talk time" so I can't really use it yet, but hopefully that will be resolved tomorrow. Also, I went to the supermarche (grocery store) for my first shopping experience here. I'm happy to report it was painless! In all of my travels, I have found the the US is MOST different in terms of shopping-- mostly when I go to grocery stores in other countries, they resemble each other quite a lot-- the stores here are similar to the stores in the UK and Europe and the Caribbean, it's the US that tends to be the outlier with our big-box stores like Wal-Mart. Except in Canada, I haven't really ever seen a store like that in any of the other countries I've been to.

After the shopping, we went back to Ilunga's house where we prayed and talked and shared ideas-- it was really fantastic though somewhat difficult because of the language barrier. Mary told me about a lot of her ideas for improving conditions in Mulongo, increasing self-sufficiency among the women, etc. It was really good to hear her ideas because she speaks from her experience of living there, and her desire is truly to improve things long-term and help the residents to support themselves. For example, she said that it is really important for the women to be able to attend school and participate in education, but often they aren't able to do so because they are depended on to work the fields, which takes up a lot of hours without farming equipment. But, if they had only one tractor in their town, it would free up so many women to do other things, including education. So, these are the kind of ideas we hope to generate on our journey-- the goal is not to give people things or tell them what they need, but help them to generate ideas about how they can work towards self-sufficiency, etc.

Anyway, that's pretty much it for now-- even though it's only quarter til eight here, I'm thinking of hitting the hay..... 

1 comment:

  1. Emily: Thanks for another fascinating post! Your comments about the SES "gap" remind me of some of my dad's stories about his world travels. It's mind blowing to stop and think that something as "simple" to us in the US as one tractor might enable so many women to get an education! As you know, I love your approach in helping to reach self-sufficiency. Any good therapist knows that is truly the best (most effective and most empowering) way to help others!! Keep up the great work, and again, I can't wait to see pictures!!