A Summer in Democratic Republic of the Congo


Compiled Facebook posts from Kenny Smallhorn, peer minister at Wesley Student Center, University of Illinois

After several days of travel, including 4 days of bike riding, we are safely in Kamina. We have received excellent hospitality along the way! Throughout the travels, we have heard from many church members about their unique challenges, as well as what makes their congregations so joyous. This includes much of the hard work that United Methodist women are doing to support their communities. Personally, I am very tired, but also very excited for these opportunities to connect.

This summer, we spent a lot of time in the garden. The work that goes into simply keeping the garden watered is incredible. It takes people to pump from the well, fill jugs with water, carry the jugs through the garden, and then actually watering. Access to water is precious, and often the well that they were using would break. Even with those challenges though, there was always time for a dance break. 🕺

During my time in Africa, I took note each day how hard the women around me were working. Every morning they were the first people awake. They start at 6 am with sweeping the ground around the house so that it all looks nice. Then, they move on to watering the garden (which takes almost two hours of difficult work). After that, they begin cooking for lunch. This is no easy task. I know, because I tried. Mixing bhukari and crushing cassava tired me out way before the ladies! In their free time, instead of resting, the girls would all work on braiding each other’s hair. And, when it was my turn for laundry day, they argued with me that they should be helping me. These girls never stopped! 

This is possibly my favorite picture that I took all summer. It feels like a representation of women, young and old, that literally keep the world running. Without them, I would certainly have gone hungry because I wasn’t strong enough to stir the bhukari on my own!

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My time in Congo is coming to an end soon, so I am trying to appreciate the moments that I have left. Marcel and Ruben made that easy today! Watching them goof around and mess with people literally made me forget that I was in Congo. They made me laugh so hard, and reminded me so much of my friends and family in the US. Thank you for the fun times guys!

Now that I’ve been home for a week, I want to post some pictures from my time in DRC. These are some of the guys (and girl) that I was fortunate to get to spend time with. We played soccer, practiced English-French, and learned the rules to Uno (with some arguing, of course). We also spent a lot of time watering the garden together- more pictures on that later.
*pictured from left to right: Landry, Kadogol, Alpho, Gloire, Michel, and Me!*

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