Thursday, August 1, 2013

Running to Congo

It's funny how we don't realize the significance of something until it is over. I had no idea how close I was to Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) and specifically the fighting near Goma until I was back in the US and uploaded my GPS tracked runs to my running log. Thus, I want to share this with you.
Running Toward the Gorillas and Guerrillas
This first run was just up a long low angle road toward the mountains that were somewhat masked by haze, smog, and dust. I knew that we were in the general region of the DRC and Uganda, but when I actually look at it on the map... Wow, it's just another five miles away, I was halfway there!
Running Toward Goma
For those that do not know, Goma, or north of Goma, DRC is where the M23 rebels are fighting and UN peacekeepers have moved into the area. This was a shorter run, but this is clearly the main road from the city of Ruhengeri to Goma, with a population up to even one million. I look at this map and I think, while fighting still exists there, and the city was captured by M23 rebels in late 2012, I could have run there! Sure it would be 20-25 miles or so, but the road was pretty good. 

The strange thing about this whole experience is that the two days spent in this area no one ever mentioned anything about the fighting in the Congo just 15 miles strait away. It's like Platteville, Wisconsin was having a war and in Dubuque no one talked about it.

Interesting to say the least. This highlights an idea that I had after Pakistan, the world is more day to day than we understand. I think in the US we still think wars are fought on battlefield in far away destinations, because we have not had anything up close and personal on our land in a long time. Yet in much of the rest of the world, wars are fought next to uncle Jim's fruit stand and behind aunt Margret's house. By far, most people do not participate in the fighting, thus the issue of refugees. Yet these struggles are so close to their daily lives that there is not a choice of stopping until the conflict ends. If a country or place wants to develop and have something economic, life and work must continue.

By the way, DRC, doesn't that sound scary? I keep thinking, 'Demilitarized Zone' because of all the fighting that has happened and the connotations of demilitarized zone in Korea. 

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