Tennis Courts and Refugee Camps

Sometimes it seems easy to forget that I am in Africa.  Weekends in Goma are usually full of social events between all of the NGO’s that are based there.  There is almost always a BBQ or a party or something at one of the houses on a Friday or Saturday night.  This past weekend we went over to MSF-Holland’s house.  They are a mile or so down the road from our houses and right on the lake too.  I think there had to be 40 or 50 people there.  On Sunday a group of us went across the border into Rwanda for an amazing breakfast buffet and spent the rest of the day there playing tennis, beach volleyball and working on our sunburns. 

The National Geographic film crew that had been following some of the Air Serv and other pilots were there to say farewell before they were to leave the next day.  They spent about a month in Goma trying to capture what flying in Africa is like.  I am really curious to see what the final product will be.  I wasn’t interviewed by them, but it’s possible that I might make it on screen at some point.  Apparently it’s not a sure thing that it will even make it to TV.  They seemed very hopeful that it would though.  It really seems strange that they would send a whole film crew all of the way to the DRC to only maybe make it out of the editing room, but I guess that’s how those things go. 

I wonder if they were able to capture the seemingly strange contradiction that is an expatriate living in Goma.  Things can seem so familiar one minute and completely foreign the next.  I think it’s that things can be so different here for the expats that there is a strong drive to make things as “normal” as possible while living in a place that is anything but. 

On the weekends there are BBQ’s parties and tennis, while during the week it’s hospitals and refugee camps.  Maybe it’s that we only fly over the camps and hear second hand about what goes on in those places that makes it feel so odd.  The every day living conditions for the pilots are already relatively close to what would be considered normal that makes the drive to recreation seem like overcompensation.  A lot of the people that we fly spend weeks at a time eating rice and beans and sometimes living in tents so I can understand their desire to attempt a return to civilization. 

It is a strange feeling to have the label “humanitarian” and to live almost like you would back home. 

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4 Responses to “Tennis Courts and Refugee Camps”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Sounds cool. All my coworkers are always asking how you’re doing, they loved the picture of you and all those kids.

  2. mormor Says:

    well, I don`t know if I should feel sorry for you there in Africa !!!, seems you have some good times there inbetween the flying! Really, I am glad that you can have some leisure time with friends, as I realize you have some tense and trying times as well. Take advantage of the opportunity to see as much as you can…..and as always, be careful!!! mormor

  3. MOM Says:

    Hey, I played tennis yesterday too–but not in Africa!! Enjoy!

  4. Auntie Says:

    What kind of tennis courts do they have? Are they clay, or just like here? I played tennis today too, but it was on the usual cement courts. Is the food that you eat at the buffets, etc. American style, European or African?

    Take care,

    Auntie

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