Rwanda for Lunch

Things seemed to have calmed down a bit after the problems of Friday night in Goma.  On Saturday morning I flew along with one of the other Air Serv pilots in the Caravan.  We flew a plane load of “therapeutic milk” and other food to help malnutrition to Kasongo which has a grass runway.  Except for a narrow strip down the middle, the grass was pretty tall.  Landing on grass was a strange feeling.  It was like the first time I landed on snow.  It just doesn’t feel like what you might expect.  

Kasongo from the air

On the way back to the house after we flew back to Goma, we passed a large funeral procession that was going down the road.  At the front there were about thirty or forty motorcycles that were all tooting their horns at the same time.  I wonder if it had anything to do with the events of the night before.  Nobody seemed to know any details of what happened, but a Finnish NGO worker told me that a military/police unit from Kinshasa was out there raiding houses looking for weapons (and anything else they would want for themselves).  She said that some of the local staff she worked with had the police break into their houses.  I am guessing that a lot of the people weren’t too happy about it.

On Sunday we went across the border into Rwanda to have lunch in Gisenyi.  We got a ride to the border and then walked once on the Rwandan side.  It was a night and day difference once across the border.  There were trees lining the road (which was actually paved), a very nice public park with a beach, and even flowers.  Kids were playing and swimming in the lake.  Most of the people seemed friendly and spoke English. 

Road to Gisenyi

There was a lot of killing in Gisenyi during the Rwandan genocide.  Some say that a lot of the people there either took part in the killing or narrowly escaped and returned later.  I really wish that I hadn’t heard that.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the waiter that was smiling and friendly had swung a machete years ago.  In order to kill nearly a million people in three months, it takes more than just soldiers to do that.  It’s scary to think what average people can do when hate and fear take over. 

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3 Responses to “Rwanda for Lunch”

  1. Dad Says:

    That looks like an interesting airstrip. I thought it looked like a different type of airplane in this picture. I guess you are seeing some areas that have really been through a lot.

  2. mormor Says:

    Patrick, please be careful…it sounds scary to me..what once in a lifetime experience you have…..but please be careful……mormor

  3. Eric Bryant Says:

    such beautiful pics of such a beautiful place which needs healing. glad you are there serving!

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