At home again

Stig, son of Yapeco and Yngve. The place is Air Brussel office in Kinshasa

Yesterday went fast and it was really hot. We packed our belongings one last time. Because Yngve had handed out all the bulky A4 binders, containing MSG’s training material, we had plenty of room in our suitcases. That was lucky, as we had received several packages to convey to people in Sweden.

We have met everybody we wanted to see, and they are now able to immerse themselves in MSG’s ideas and Focus Business School.

In the morning Augustin drove Yapeco, his son Stig and us to the Brussels Airlines’ office in the middle of Kinshasa. When we were going along one of the boulevards we saw a plaque commemorating Dag Hammarskjöld at a location between the two carriageways. He died in September 1961, in the struggle for peace in Congo. It was good to see his name. We felt proud. The check-in was troublefree.

Stig, 19 years, is studying law and would like to study in the US in the future. But he also says “I want to come back to my beloved country.” We were delighted to hear this. Congo needs its talented youngsters.

Yngve and I ate French fries at “our” restaurant near Nzo Binati and were fortunate to be served by our favorite waiter, a very friendly and happy man.

In the afternoon Oscar Luthelo Muller, parlamentarian, came to talk about the energy efficient houses. Yngve raised this idea with Oscar and a government minister a year ago. Now the idea had matured. He is very interested, and asked Yngve and Yapeco to look into where to buy the right materials. It is important to find the right solar cell equipment. Yapeco will examine the market in Congo and Yngve in Europe.

Yapeco’s friend Teddy had promised to come and fetch us at 6 pm. Our flight was leaving at 10 pm. His chauffeur did not arrive until 7 pm. While we were waiting, we misunderstood our boarding passes, and thought that the plane had been rescheduled to 9 pm. We endured a very nervous hour. We waited in the driveway by the great gates of Nzo Binati. Albert in the kitchen took out a small bench so we could sit.

Our good-natured driver Augustin stayed with us all the time. And Dickens, who was our driver in 2010, and Michel in the kitchen, also kept us company. The three men sat down on the ground and made it easier to wait.
The car came, and we took off. Teddy’s chauffeur drive as tough as anyone else in Kinshasa. The drivers squeezes in the cars where there is minimal space, they make a u-turn in the middle of a car queue, they honk a lot and speak out loudly to their fellow commuters. We picked up Teddy at his office and with him in the car, it felt calmer.

At the airport, Teddy knew paths that others do not get to go, and he got us past all the queues. The somewhat snotty lady who checked our passports and papers asked for a Coca Cola, but we had no more congolese money.

Yngve spoke with three older gentlemen who were leaving Congo on the same flight as us, and we could sit down and wait in peace and quiet. Both flights went well. In Brussels we changed to a smaller plane and it was so nice to feel the cool air. We switched to long pants and sweaters. At Landvetter we were kindly met by Bernt Sköld, who after eight trips to Congo feels that he misses the country.

At home everything was in order. Sture has brought in the mail, and Ann-Katrin has watered the flowers. Yngve fetched our own potatoes and carrots from the root cellar. We enjoy sitting at the kitchen table again. But very often, we talk about our friends and our travels in Congo.

When we summarize the month, we can conclude that we have participated in 34 meetings, some with just one person and some with a larger group. We have traveled about 1100 kilometers. Yapeco and Augustin went an additional 280 kilometers to retrieve lamps in Matadi. We have changed the place to stay seven times.

We are extremely grateful that we, except some minor ailments, have been healthy and that we were not involved in any accidents. Thank you all who have been thinking of us and praying for us. That meant a lot to us. We hope that we have started a new chapter in MSG’s activities and that purposeful entrepreneurship will be wider spread and have a greater impact on the Congo countries.

Later on, we hope to publish a report on which and how many people who received the sponsorship when they bought solar lamps. We have asked some people to collect the data. All lamps now have a user. Some buyers have been allowed to buy on installment. They have been given a maximum of three months payback.

Posted in MSG

On the way home

Inga-Nora in Matadi

At 9:15 am, Julienne Kukangisa went with us down to the market to buy beans. She then took a taxi to Nsanda to welcome a new employee, Kasongo.

We will bring some peanuts, sesame seeds and a grapefruit to Sweden. All of it has grown on the Nsanda fields. Saturday when we were in Nsanda, Julienne and I peeled the peanuts with some assistance by Yngve.

We continued towards Kimpese, the driver Augustin, his uncle Clement Nyambudi, Yapeco, Yngve and me. We arrived at noon. Before we did anything else, we met with Nganga and then Tutondele. At Tutondele’s, we met a young man named Floden (river) after the Swedish missionary Flodén.

We came to Pilot villa, where Hélén had the dinner on the table. She surprised me with french fries, they were really good. We had passion fruit for dessert, also very good. Hélén asked us to mail two letters for her in Sweden. One of them is to Inga-Nora Jervgren and the second is to Anneli Andreasson. Yesterday I photographed the girl who is called Inga-Nora after the missionary, young Inga-Nora in Matadi.

We continued towards Kinshasa, and Clement bought a tasty fruit on the way. It’s called mamosta. We drove past numerous trucks loaded with charcoal. Along the way there are also colossal stacks of charcoal sacks, the only thing you can use in the city for heating food and water if you don’t have electricity. Wood smokes too much and causes a big problem: soot.

We were going at a steady speed and arrived in Kinshasa between 5 and 6 pm. At Nzo Binati we were well received, except that the power was missing. Augustin once again had a headache and will now try my ibumetin painkillers. Clement helped me translate that he should only take one at a time, and no more than three per day.

We have started to write this blog in the light of a flashlight, but we don’t know yet if we will be able to finish it.

Tuesday, our last day in Congo, we have scheduled a meeting with a professor to discuss the type of energy efficient house that Yngve has been working on, and which already a year ago was presented to the professor.

Moreover, we will have conclusion meetings with Nsimba Anderson and Yapeco. We will make a summary of the time in Congo Kinshasa. We hope to be able to check in tonight or tomorrow online. Our luggage we will leave at the Air Brussels office in Kinshasa.

Posted in MSG

Sunday in Matadi

One of many choirs at Baobab church

Sunday morning, the car was working again and we could use it to go to the Baobab Church, an adventurous drive to the very top of the hill. Yngve and I got to sit on chairs in the front row of the pews. Since it was Palm Sunday, large parts of the congregation had palm branches in their hands. During the welcome section of the service, we were also invited to the podium and were solemnly welcomed by pastor Diangitukulu. Everyone appreciates when Yngve say thanks in Kikongo; “Tutondele”. Kukangisa sat behind us and translated the sermon for us. There were at least five or six different choirs, and they were singing very enthusiastically and beautifully. Afterwards, the pastor invited us for a soft drink in his home. The chairman was host. Then we went to back to Lisanga and ate dinner.

Yapeco had arranged a meeting with Rotary’s secretary, the lawyer Pascal Mutala. Yapeco drove us to his address and we waited a while outside, before he came home in the car. The last part of the road up to his house was a difficult passage, but he has a very nice house. First, Mutala had a couple of clients to attend to. In the meantime, we spoke with his wife Monique, who was interested in Sweden. When Pascal was ready, Yngve told him about MSG’s work in Congo. Rotary in Ulricehamn, who wants to assist MSG in Congo, wishes to establish a contact with Rotary in Matadi, through which they could convey support. Rotary in Ulricehamn expect a letter from Rotary Matadi. Pascal promised to take care of this. He wants to keep in touch through Yapeco, and he wishes that Yngve becomes a member of the Rotary Matadi.

At Lisanga, Yapeco’s daughter Signe waited for us. Yapeco and Kukangisa went ahead to the Youth House.

We talked with Signe, took photos and gave her two Alva angels, one to Signe and one to Augustine.

Signe had wanted to see me, because we have not seen each other since 2010. It was very nice to meet her now. Mother Augustine and his brother Stig, we have met earlier on this trip.

Yngve and I walked the short way to the Youth House, where several members of the committee were waiting. Yngve’s school mate from the years 1961-62, Samuel, showed us the newly mounted ceiling. I raised funds to the ceiling on my birthday in 2010.

Samuel told his story. He talked about when he was in Sweden, where he learned more about youth work, and he talked about the present day and the joy of MSG’s work in Matadi. Samuel then introduced all the members, about thirty people.

They are planning two anniversaries; one of the Committee’s formation in 2000 and one of the five years since the Youth House was opened in 2010.

Afterwards, we spoke with Samuel’s grandson Horly who work for an insurance agency, Pappa Social, and wants contacts with insurance companies in Sweden. Yngve wants to try to help him. He urged Horly to study English if he wants to go to Sweden.

Back at Lisanga, Clement Nyambodi from Nsanda had arrived and I took a photo of Kukangisa and Clement.

As we sat and and talked, Mama Matila and her son Oscar Luthelo, came together with Samuel Nkailu. Oscar Luthelo has arranged a meeting about energy efficient houses with a professor on Tuesday.

We have just heard from Edi Diafukana in Luozi, that the lamps are sold out. All of them will be of use.

The pancakes that we had for supper Sunday night, tasted just like Swedish pancakes.

Yngve will be checking in via the computer on Monday night and we leave Congo Tuesday evening. Sweden is waiting.

Posted in MSG

To Nsanda and back

Julienne and Kerstin doing business

After breakfast, Augustin, Julienne Kukangisa and I took a trip to Nsanda, where the family Nyambodi have a house and agricultural land. Julienne wanted to retrieve some of the harvest that would go to Kinshasa on Monday, for sale. We went through Nsanda in October 2010 on the way to the Inga Falls.

Yngve stayed at home and went through the finances with Yapeco.

The outward journey went well even though the road is badly damaged by the rain. The village Nsanda is elongated and at the first part there was a market place, with several people from Matadi as customers.
Clement Nyambodi calls the house in Nsanda a summer cottage, and I was invited to see the inside. Ample space.
Inside, there was a visitor, an agronomist who wanted to talk about a field that a neighbour had been complaining about. The agronomist will be going up to the field and check it out another day.

We met a friendly man, Baku Jima, who drive cars and tractors at the Nyambodi farm. He carried the harvest, i.e. bags of beans, corn and sesame seeds from the storage room to the car.
When the car was loaded, Clement and Jima came with us in the car back to Matadi. They were going to a some kind of legal authority, concerning the complaining neighbor.

We approached Matadi and saw the magnificent view of the houses climbing up hills with the Congo River in the foreground. Suddenly the car stopped and no matter what trick Augustin tried, it didn’t start.
Augustin rang Yapeco who sent a good friend to the scene.
Yapeco’s generous friend, with his own family in his car, towed us the whole way to Lisanga. In the afternoon, Augustin took the diesel pump of the car and went to the garage. He got it repaired, and that wasn’t cheap. We stand for the fuel on this journey.

But we are thankful that nobody got hurt and that the stop occurred at this short trip, and not on a longer journey.

By now, the mistress has noticed how few dishes I eat and she is concerned. But I am satisfied and feel good eating rice and piri piri. And we always get bananas for dessert. Bananas are harvested year-round in Congo.

In the afternoon, we waited in vain for a contact with the president of Rotary. The power went out, and we sat in the twilight and talked. Yapeco and Augustin came by and told us that the car will be fixed by tomorrow morning. Therefore, we expect to be able to go to the Baobab church at nine o’clock.

Posted in MSG

Two universities

Samuel Nkailu speaking about his activities

On Thursday, Samuel Nkailu came on a visit. It was a happy reunion and we had many greetings to him from Sweden, both written and oral. Samuel has just turned 79, but he is he always has been. He is busy all the time. There are a lot of activities in the Youth House, for example courses in sewing. The Christian support group has opened restaurants at two hospitals in Matadi. Six days a week, they cook and sell food to the patients at a low price. Everybody works as volunteers. Matila’s son Oscar Muller, who is a parliamentarian in Kinshasa, gives a sum corresponding to 1000 SEK to each restaurant every month. He is exemplary. The world need many such politicians.

On Friday, Yapecos wife Augustine came to visit us. At 10 o’clock Yngve and Yapeco went to the bank. Yngve needed cash for the rest of the trip. It took some time to get cash, therefore we were a bit late for the meeting at Congo’s first university, University Libre, with 1250 students. Yapeco apologized for the late arrival and everyone seemed happy, anyway. We were received by the church director Paul Tekasala and got to meet five other people of staff, among them a young and handsome rector.

Yngve starts every presentation with a positive approach and I think he is a good presenter. Julienne Kukangisa interpreted him for the first time on this trip. It’s good that she interprets from Swedish. Yngve underlined that the whole enterprise began in Matadi with his community college friend, Samuel Nkailu. He talked about MSG and how it consists of entrepreneurs who wanted to share their experiences. Yngve stressed that Sweden’s welfare depends largely on entrepreneurship. And he talked about the three tools of MSG: education, start-up loans and follow-ups, and the principles: honesty, transparency, control and results.

The rector pointed out they have the same values as MSG. He said “We have entrepreneurs, but they have not learned the basics of entrepreneurship”.

Yngve stressed that it is important that the educators are in contact with the lenders / banks and that the loans are provided at reasonable costs. The lending of money from Sweden has been too complicated. It would be better if the lenders are based in Congo.

Then, a newspaper waited for us to do an interview. They took many photos.

We drove for a while in Matadi, which is a quite large town, where the houses are situated beautifully on the steep slopes. We were fetching Jean Pierre who participated in MSG’s first course in Matadi October 2010. He is a teacher at the next university we were going visit today, I.S.C. Matadi, with 2,000 students and three faculties: social and customs administration and economy. They also have a basic entrepreneurial education they now want to develop. We seemed to be coming at the right time.

Yngve now told the story in a slightly different order, but just as good. This rector was even more enthusiastic. Yngve spoke of how the university increases the value of the course and how important it is with professional teachers. At both universities Yngve talked about the possibility of conducting a course already in the fall with French-speaking teachers. Participants should consist of entrepreneurs and teachers. It is important to include practical excercises. The training should be a mix of theory and practice.

Posted in MSG

At Lisanga

Our house at Lisanga

After a long day’s travel on Wednesday, with the sad event of the accident on the end, Thursday in Matadi was much calmer. But here, we have the traffic right outside our window, a constant roaring.

Our good-natured driver Augustin had a headache this morning. No wonder after the demanding driving yesterday, on roads destroyed by rain. But he perked up during the day. Yngve prepared coming meetings in Matadi and he called Samuel Nkailu. Now we are waiting for him to come here.
Yapeco has taken other necessary contacts and tonight, Julienne Kukangisa arrive from the family farm in Nsanda. Julienne is a good interpreter.

We have eaten breakfast and dinner, served by the friendly cook who I think was here back in 2010. She doesn’t check what we eat, so I can eat only rice and piri piri without hurting her feelings. Augustin do not eat rice, but everything else. Luckily, she does not serve manioc, which makes eating easier for me.

A man who was selling baskets at the restaurant wanted to talk to us, but Yngve told him that we unfortunately don’t speak French. Some men were sitting and watching TV outside the restaurant. I recall that that was the case in 2010 as well.

When we arrived yesterday, we were first given a room in the main house, which Yapeco calls the Inga-Nora house. But to get to the rooms you have to walk up some high stairs, and I was very grateful when we were relocated to the room in the presidential villa. Here, we have both a bedroom and a living room. But the kitchen is completely cleared of all utensils, so we won’t be able to cook for ourselves. We will give the dry soups we brought to Julienne who will understand the descriptions in Swedish.

Our final day is approaching and it feels good. We have had rewarding days in Bas-Congo.

Posted in MSG

Drama on the road

Four school girls on their way to the school at CEC

After a night of even more violent thunder we packed our things and went for the last time to Gunnel for a nice breakfast. Tuesday night, we paid Robert Diabanza for the room, and Wednesday morning we paid Gunnel for the food.

At 9.55 am, we left the CEC Church’s center and headed towards the ferry station, where we waited for over two hours for the boat. The waiting time was first caused by a bull that insisted to linger a while on the ferry. But after it got water poured over it, had some water to drink and was allowed to swim a little, it agreed to leave the ferry and be led ashore. The next timeconsuming project was a load of at least fifty sacks of rice and sugar, as well as boxes of oil. These were carried from the ferry to the riverside one by one and loaded onto a bright yellow truck. While we waited, we looked out over the mighty Congo River, the world’s second largest river.

The crossing went well and we started the journey on the part of the route between Kimbemba and Kimpese that we believe is the worst subsection. Luckily, we have a highly skilled driver in Augustin. He knows the road very well and parries cavities skillfully. We made a stop in one village, where Yapeco bought two bags of charcoal. It’s good to have for cooking when the power is gone. In another village our companions replenished their stock of manioc. We passed President Kabila’s property and after a little more than three hours, we were finally on the better tarmac road to Kimpese.

We had dinner with Hélén in the Pilot villa. She had even made boiled potatoes. We left some letters to various people in Kimpese and we met Emy Miantezila. Then Augustin drove safely and in good speed until we only had twenty kilometers left to Matadi, the first place we got to know in Bas-Congo. There, we were stopped by a severe accident, involving a logging truck. The cargo consisted of three logs of cambala. The timber had not been firmly secured.

The car had overturned in the middle of the road and the driver and his two passengers had died. We arrived shortly after the accident happened. Yapeco and Augustin assessed the situation and decided that we would continue our journey with an acquaintance of Yapeco who stood on the other side of the accident. He would take us to Lisanga, the former missionary residence, in Matadi. We arrived at 9 pm, and got a good place to stay in the presidential villa. After eleven hours and 250 kilometers on the road, our days in had Matadi begun.

Posted in MSG

Yngve rescues a goat

The rescued goat

When we walk to Gunnel’s house for our meals, we pass quite a few goats that are bound to a pole or root. Yngve saw that one goat had entangled himself in the tether and stood quite close to the pole without being able to move. Since we ourselves are experiencing the hottest days so far, we felt bad for the goat. Yngve loosened the rope, untangled it and tied it to the pole again. Now, the goat could go into the shade and it seem happy to do just that. In the evenings the goats are retrieved by children who lead them back to the family house.

Today, Yapeco had planned a meeting with people from the universitiy. Unfortunately, a minister from Matadi thought of the same thing, and the academics of Luozi met with him instead. We will leave a letter with the CEC president, intended for the university. He will contact them later on our behalf.

There are only 26 solar lamps left now, and graciously, the CEC president will take responsibility of them too. Augustin will take care of the sales. They have two months to sell the lot. Here, is considerably harder to sell, probably due to lack of purchasing power. But it is this community that would benefit the most from solar lamps, since there is no electricity.

All people greet us friendly. Most people say “Bonjour!” and several lift their hands towards us. The kids seem to like to greet us with “Mundele!” (= Whitey).

So, our days by the Congo river float away. Every day we see something new, and evenings and nights, we see nothing at all in the darkness. As we walked home from Gunnel, after the TV news from Switzerland Monday night, we saw a mighty flash on the horizon. We did not hear any sound, but it made a powerful impression to see the black palm silhouettes against the light from the sky. Then, came the thunderstorm that lasted for quite a while.

When the silence returned, we had no problems to go to sleep. We had hoped that the outbreak would have cleared the air a bit, but no such luck. Clearly, this is not the cooler season.

Posted in MSG

Crocodiles and snow

One of three Pailotts

And so, our last week in Congo has begun. The first item on the agenda was a morning meeting in classroom of the pastor students. One of the students took care of us and walked with us around campus. When I photographed the three paillottes outside the classroom he asked me if I liked them. I told him that I had heard that a church in Vårgårda had sponsored them. The pailottes are very useful when there classes are held outdoors.

The meeting began at 7:30 am and was well attended. We were probably about a hundred people. All the students of the pastor and the evangelist training were there, and the staff at the Church center and both Church presidents, among others, were also there. We sang a few songs in kikongo with, for us, known melodies. One man led the singing, another the Bible reading and prayer. One man greeted the two presidents and our driver Augustin welcome back home. The Presidents got applauses and they spoke about what they achieved in Kinshasa etc.

Then someone talked about upcoming activities: a retreat for Sunday school teachers, football games where the focus should be more on socializing then competing. During the last week of March a special collection will be dedicated to those who have retired. The staff of the school office informed that they had cleaned up around the building recently. They invited everyone to share this chore. Someone had greetings from this weekend’s medical conference. Another one told about a recent death and where the burial would take place. Lendo, who we have met in Sweden, talked about the the start of the election campaign of the majority party, concerning next year’s presidential election. Choirs will be practicing in april before a large assembly in August.

At the end, President Edi Diafuanakana asked Yngve and me to come forward to be welcomed. We were also asked to pass on greetings to Sweden when we return home. Yngve talked about MSG’s work and the president talked about the makeshift lamp store at Gunnel’s house.

We ate breakfast at Gunnel’s along with Augustin. He also joined us at dinner where we ate tasty fish from the Congo river. We asked Gunnel to describe snow for Augustin and he became quite interested.

We talked about crocodiles. They have started to increase again. Augustin and Gunnel told us that the crocodile lifts up it’s prey three times in the air before disappearing underwater. The folklore used to say that crocodiles are hateful people who turn into crocodiles in order to eat their enemies. Mission accomplished, they turn into humans again.

After dinner, we took a walk and went by the assembly hall that the church is building. It will be large.
We will probably be leaving Luozi on Wednesday. Yapeco has started selling lamps, and we hope his stock is soon sold out.

Posted in MSG

Sunday worship in Luozi

The brown CEC church in Luozi

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast at Gunnel Jönsson’s in Luozi. Saturday night, Gunnel had kindly followed us home in the pitch-black evening after a good supper. It was good to be in a “Swedish” home where we recognize the foods and the dishes. We even had cheese.

On the way to church, we met the entrepreneur Daniel Bimpe and his family who had gone to the French church service at 8. When we were here in October 2010 we visited Bimpe’s factory.

At 10 am, we arrived at the CEC Church in Luozi. This was the service in Kikongo and at the start, there were very few churchgoers. A pastor in training kept track of the whole thing. He led the service well.

When the music of the psalms were known to us, we sang along in Swedish. We listened to a children’s choir, a female choir and a male choir. On a couple of occasions, a small group of ladies up stood up in the pews and sang. It was a very alternately Sunday service.

Another pastor in training, somewhat older, held the sermon. Gunnel told us that he talked about sanctifying the Sunday and keep it as a day of rest. The host of the service who was a younger man had much to attend to. If you appreciated one of the parts of the service particularly much, you could leave a contribution in a box during the service. During the service, the donations went to a building fund. At the end, there was a regular collection.

Shortly before the collection, we were invited to the podium for a special greeting. Yngve had the opportunity to speak and began by saying Mbote = hello. He talked briefly about the entrepreneurial training and that we sell solar lamps in a makeshift store at Gunnel’s house. There is no electricity in Luozi. Yngve concluded by saying tutondele = thank you very much. From the podium, we could now see that the church was crowded. We spoke to several members of the congregation afterwards, including some of the previous participants of the MSG entrepreneurial course in Luozi.

After resting, we ate well-cooked dinner with Gunnel and talked about Sweden for a while. Now supper at Gunnel’s awaits and then a walk back to where we stay in the darkest darkness we’ve ever seen. But we do have a flashlight, luckily.

Posted in MSG