A well-deserved rest for the team and up for breakfast in time to leave for the Kinshasa boat club and a 2 hour cruise up the Congo at 9am.
Champagne for some, coke for Quinton and coffee for most as we threaded our way through the Kinshasa boat people, some fishermen, other ferrymen running a service (a bit like all other modes of transport we had witnessed the last 27 days) crowded, with everything one can imagine, onto a barge till its draw was just above the waterline - trips to Kisangani cost between US$50 and US$100 dollars per person for a single trip depending on what barge you take and any luggage is extra - the trip takes more than a month and the return trip around 3 weeks and you take your own food and bedding. The River people live over the water and the intensely unhygienic conditions and consequential pollution is hard to explain.
As only in Africa, juxtaposed to the crowded fish and other markets, the overcrowded living conditions and intense barge activities, was the River City - an upmarket development for the haut society where apartments and villas go for 100’s of thousands of US dollars.
We also passed the log people floating down the river on a raft of logs - taking months to get to the sawmills in Kinshasa or the docks for onward transportation to the outside world - hungry for the amazing hardwoods of the African jungle. The team was also able to appreciate the dimensions of the Congo River - the only lifeline, in many ways, to the millions of people in central Africa.
Most of today was about extending Nos Vies en Partage’s reach to deserving causes - some for the cities we had passed and visited but whose sponsors reside in Kinshasa and others doing great work with regards our children of Africa which are often the losers in the urbanisation march!
It started with a visit to the Kalembelembe paediatric hospital in Kinshasa to hand over a donation of goods from our Kibali temporary workers. This remarkable effort was made by MD, our labour brokers at Kibali, after the workers had voluntarily elected to donate what they could to this hospital.l The foundation added a cheque to the donation.
This was followed by a Nos Vies en Partage cocktail event at the Memling Hotel to celebrate our reaching Kinshasa, with members of parliament, government representatives, our business associates, friends and civil society in this city. We handed over 10 cheques to amazing people who dedicate their lives to the reintegration and counselling of sexually abused women and children, the education and upliftment of youth and/or provision and care for orphans. Some of the recipients emotionally expressed their appreciation and the Governor of the Haute-Uele Province, where Kibali is located, gave an emotive speech recognising Mark’s efforts and those of Randgold and the NVEP Foundation in the DRC. Details of the beneficiaries are available under the beneficiaries section on this site.
A long day tomorrow again - over 600km with the last more than 200km described as challenging - so an early start (5am) for the team. Some members of the Kinshasa biker’s club are planning to join us for part of the day.
Should you wish to make a donation to the Nos Vies en Partage Fundraising drive then please click here