Bunia Market Day
The smell of charcoal burning in the street. White faces and hands from cassava flour. Babies sleeping, crawling and sitting beneath the market stalls. Flies dancing over slabs of meat in the little meat shacks. sewing machines from the old-in-days whirring with colourful fabrics and designs. Gaping mouths of Mammas puffing on tobacco leaves. Tiny one roomed restaurants caught between the chaos of charcoal burning, cassava flour grinding, shoe making and of course Congolese music floating through the air from a near-by shack. Mayonnaise jars sit empty on the wooden table and the classic tin bowls hang unevenly on the poorly arranged plank walls. No one seems to own the restaurant as it is empty with no one in sight. There is the banana alley with the “plump” small bananas, long and thick plantane and men pushing wooden carts piled high with bushels of bananas. The meat alley is very potent. The flies dance with the flying rag that swats at them. “Dieu Merci,” “Notre Dieu,” “Dieu Donne,” mark the entrances to the Boucharies along with oil paintings of cows and steaks on the stained walls. In the back of each shack hang the legs of cows almost the same height as the vendors. The charcoal alley is full of strongmen, big trucks, black earth, and smoky air. Bags of charcoal are thrown into the air to be piled precariously on dirty Chinese camions. Sweat drips down the faces of the bandana wearing men and it doesn’t seem like a place for a woman.
Our exciting and yet sad outing to the MONUC House Restaurant
We stayed with the Sisters in Bunia during our stay and I was fortunate enough to meet a little 12 year old girl named Safi there. She had lost her sister in the Market in Bunia 5 days ago and her family as I understood were in a different village somewhere but it was not sure where exactly. One of the Sisters knew her so had taken her into the convent to stay until they knew what to do next. When I first met her she was sitting outside looking completely desolate and I could see so much sadness in her eyes. Some of the Sisters tried talking with her but she barely said a word and if she did it was in very quiet Lingala. I thought to myself that this little girl needs something to take her mind of what she’s going through. I couldn’t imagine losing my sister and family at the age of 12! So I automatically thought to play some soccer with her. I found a soccer ball and then gently asked if she’d like to play with me. She was timid at first and didn’t respond but slowly she got to her feet and followed me. We kicked the ball back and forth and she slowly began to open up. By the end of our time playing together she was smiling, laughing, giving me high fives, and hugs and speaking French with me. This is an experience that will stay with me forever. She was pretty good at soccer too. When we took turns in goal she was nailing some hard shots at me and scored twice on me. When she scored she raised her hands in the air and jumped up and down and we exchanged high fives. She really touched my heart and I think I also helped her take her mind away from all her sufferings. It was sad saying goodbye because I wanted to know that she would be safe with her family. The childcare services here will take her to the village where they think her family is, so I pray to God that she is welcomed and that her sister is found as well. The Sisters here were sharing about children on the street and they said in Kinshasa the capital, it is common to open one’s door and find 2 or 3 abandoned newborn babies.