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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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HEAL Africa International Staff Experiences 2010

HEAL Africa currently has 3 permanent international people on the ground in Goma. Last week they were evacuated to Rwanda, but have since returned to Goma. The situation changes every day and they are prepared to leave again if the insecurity increases. You can read about their experiences here.

Cristina Edelstein and Chelsie Frank

Cristina and Chelsie work for HEAL Africa on behalf of Upper Room Community Church and Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, MN. Along with HEAL Africa staff, they develop the organization’s approach to micro-finance and training as well as organize visiting teams to Goma. You can read their updates.

November 5 Update 

Composed upon return to Goma.

October 31 Update 

Composed while evacuated to Rwanda.

Desiree Zwanck

Desiree is an EED sponsored doctoral candidate conducting research on micro-finance and gender relations. Her master's thesis was based on the work she did with HEAL Africa’s gender-based violence program, Heal My People. The following is a letter from her. 

Dear Friends and Family, Dear Colleagues,

I am beginning to adapt myself to living in Rwanda and going over to Goma during the day to work there. At the moment, no one can really say what is going to happen next, and there has been more fighting between CNDP rebel forces and the FARDC last night. My colleagues at HEAL, who have seen so much in the last two decades, are afraid of what is yet to come. With prices on the market staggering; they can hardly afford to feed their families. Yet their solidarity does not falter: in many households, up to three families who have fled from their local villages are camping out until things get better. Several colleagues have told me that above everything else, they are worried about the traumatic impact that the current situation has on their children, who are scared and can't find sleep at night. Schools remain closed. On top of all this, HEAL's development agents have to look on as the hard work that everybody has invested into the healing and rebuilding of communities in Nord Kivu is once again destroyed. Imagine that in your own job, all the things you build, all the change you make, is torn apart year after year. I have nothing but admiration for the tenacity and hope of my brave friends.

I take every day moment by moment, knowing that as great as the suffering has grown in and everywhere around Goma, I can't live another reality but my own. I am doing my work as well as I can, I learn Swahili, I follow the news and, when Congolese music is playing on the radio, I allow myself a little dance. All I can do really is to have compassion, fulfil the mandat that I have in this specific situation and trust that the Congolese people will find a way, that the international community will find a way.

This is turning into a much longer mail than I intended, in fact I just wanted to ask you a little favor: I have been asked to participate in the documentation of the opinions, needs, hopes, thoughts of avaerage people in Goma and I will start working on this tonight with Hortence, media officer at HEAL. She also lives in Gisenyi, which will allow us to really join forces. So please send me your questions: what is, in your opinion, the missing piece of information? What would you like to ask a Congolese person living in the East? Which group, which type of people would you like to address?

Well, time to go the border. I bet my colleagues will be thrilled about the results of the US elections. This is a ray of hope even here, or so they say on all the radio stations.

Be well, take care, and send your questions quickly!

Thank you