A small village in Central Africa which promised adventure lured us from Canada. Flying medavac flights over uncharted jungle and teaching English to highly motivated teenagers - what could be better? The promise was fulfilled and much much more. But at the end, deep in the jungle, we were saved by the very people we had come to help. More
In the spring of 1989 we left British Columbia for a village in Zaire/Congo as volunteers with CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). We expected heat and primitive living conditions, and we were looking forward to adventure. It all happened, and more, much more. We had entered the land of Lobi. We had a Christmas picnic above a teeming hippo pool, we watched while men scampered up a palm tree in search of the elusive palm wine, we were helpless as children died of malaria, we witnessed a military show trial, and saw thousands of refugees flood in from the Sudan where civil war raged. There was no routine; every day brought something unexpected, be it desperate teenagers cheating on their exams or gold merchants weighing gold in our front room. During the four years we ate antelope and wart hog and big teethed fish, but decided against the boa and the crocodile. We had more than enough experiences to last a lifetime, and forged deep friendships that still endure. Lobi is a Lingala word meaning an indefinite time that defined our sojourn. Life in the village of Dungu from 1989 to 1993 often felt ancient and timeless, more like the Middle Ages than the 20th century, but unbeknownst to us, time was actually rushing forward, and has since plunged the Congo into a terrible civil war that has killed millions. This is the before story – the calm before the storm.