Around 200 Congolese delegates from Kinshasa were preparing to attend Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg, PA in July. Each of them needed to come up with $160 for a visa application (not a small amount for Kinois) and needed to have an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. An agent was hired to guide them through the application and interview process, (what to say, what not to say in this interview) and he was entrusted with the money. Eventually, the agent told the entire group that their interview was set for a certain day; when the group arrived at the embassy, however, they were told the embassy knew nothing about them. The agent had absconded with the money. There would not be another opening for interviews at the U.S. Embassy until well after the conference. Our brothers and sisters from Congo got screwed by the agent, who took off with the money to Brazzaville, on the other side of the Congo River. All but a small handful of the original delegates were unable to attend.
This is a sad story. On all my trips to Africa, I’ve always heard the same thing: please don’t forget us! I can’t forget these brothers and sisters, and I’ve decided that whatever the score may be on my fundraising at the moment, it’s time to buy the tickets for September. I didn’t have a plan B for that month anyway. I’ve applied for my visa. I’ve had my yellow fever booster shot. It’s time to commit.
With just $1400 outstanding need for my budget, I’ve decided to go ahead and purchase tickets for the trip to Congo. I do still need to raise this money for a significant part of my budget needs, but enough has come in that I’m able to purchase tickets. Could something still stop me? Yes, an Ebola outbreak or a violent coup within the next few weeks would change my plans.
Thanks so much to all who have contributed! If you’d still like to donate, go here.