It's ironic to think I am writing this blog entry sat in the safety of the Christian Aid office in an air conditioned room in the relatively stable capital of Kinshasa, when I know that 1000 miles away there is conflict and unrest in the town of Goma in the East of the country. I guess hearing about the situation worsening over the past few days has focused my mind on the question of 'How can the DRC develop further without there being total peace?'
Over the last four days, we have visited a number of Christian Aid's partners, including Humanitarian Nouvelle, which works with street children to restore family relationships with the aim of reuniting these children with their familys; RECIC, which focuses alot on accountable governance and community action projects, three HIV projects; and CONAFED, which focuses on gender equality.
I have learnt so much from these development projects including what does 'development' actually mean? I have met so many amazing Congolese people who have really inspired me. This trip so far has hugely fuelled my passion for development work. I burn with anger to see people living in conditions like these. I have been to other developing countries where there has been more a divide between the rich and poor, but what has really struck me in the DRC is that whereever you look, there is a great need.
I could go on and on about the different things I've learnt, but what has struck me recently with the news of the situation in Goma, and has been stressed by so many of the Congolese people I have met is that to have development, you firstly need peace. Pedi (a student from the University) said 'without peace, we cannot stand up and without development in the DRC, Africa won't stand up, we need peace.' He also said 'there is a social war happening in the East of our country, but there is also the economic war of our country. You can tell your government to give peace to our country.' This need for peace was also stressed by Jacques, the head of the Christian Aid office here in DRC when he said 'for development, we need peace, which means we need democracy.'