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Arriving in Goma

Volcano in CongoGerry Clarke SJ has begun to take up his new duties, working for the Jesuit Refugee Centre in Goma, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His journey to Goma appears to have been smooth and enthralling. In a recent missive, he describes the last stage – coming suddenly upon the majestic volcanoes near the shores of the beautiful Lake Kivu. Read more below.

“The driver did a fine job overtaking slow lorries as they heaved up steep hills, and avoiding pedestrians or cyclists as they weaved in front of us. With not far to go we topped a hill and the volcanoes came into view: three huge cones topped with thick cloud, looking like something out of Lord of the Rings. At this moment also the vast expanse of Lake Kivu came into view: a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by jagged mountains, at the top end of which is Goma, our destination.

Lake Kivu, Congo“Not long afterwards we approached the Border crossing of La Corniche and after some paperwork with the Rwandan officials we crossed, only to be stopped by the Congolese officials: they took some time to process our papers and there was a hint that our bags might be searched and charges levied.  Anyway I got talking to Albert, one of the officials and mentioned that I knew a Congolese Jesuit from Goma: namely, Francois Kanyamanza and after some banter back and forth we got through without any bother or dollar exchange.

“So here I sit in our office in a beautiful house on the outskirts of Goma, very near to the border itself, settling into the amazing fruits they eat as a matter of course and preparing for my second night under a mosquito net. We have a busy day tomorrow going out to all the camps where we have projects but I‚m going to take things easily now, one by one. Alvaro used a nice Spanish saying to describe this: “Poco a poco la rana llega al charco” – little by little the frog gets to the pond!”