Monday, March 14, 2011

Update Email March 12

Dear All,

Things are going well here in Gisenyi and Goma.  I have been traversing the border often now, and am getting to know the customs officials at the Petit Barriere very well.  The crowded and rocky roads in Goma are great fun on Etienne's mountain bike.  When I get back to NYC this summer it's going to be hard getting used to a road bike again.  I'll have to exercise restraint to keep from weaving through traffic or jumping every sidewalk curb in sight.

The HROC "Healing Companion" training conference over the last two weeks was wonderful and exhausting.  I am still preparing my photo and video materials from the training - the narrative report will also be useful in making website-level materials.

We certainly came in under budget for the conference for various reasons including that the conference scheduled went so the participants left on Friday morning instead of on Sunday morning as we had budgeted for.  Etienne decided not to buy the water storage tank yet, but it seems that things went okay without it.  We will send the financial report soon.

I visited the proposed site for the CPGRBC structure in Goma on Friday March 12.  See my post here for a rundown (not all photos uploaded yet.)   I also visited the annual meeting of Levi's micro-savings/credit cooperative on Sunday March 13 - it was very impressive and interesting, with about 300 people in attendance.

We also had our first meeting with representation of youth from the Gisenyi Friends Meeting, Goma Friends Meeting, and OJEPAC.  OJEPAC is a large collection of youth groups that operates like a free YMCA.  They get support from some different groups, and are full of energy and ideas for collaboration on peace-related projects with the Quaker youth groups.  See the first update at the JeunesPaixGrandsLacs website here.  (Pardon my French)

I am going to Kigali today to visit add passport pages, try for a visa to Burundi, and pick up the Quickbooks CD.  I may also give a Quickbooks or blogging training to Dave Bucura or other staff in Kigali if I have time.

Hope everything is going well back home!  Take care!!!

Sincerely,
-Steven Bhardwaj

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