Thanks

As a first foray into the world of blogging, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been following my stories and especially to those who have taken the time to respond.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the process and am constantly surprised to find that people actually care about what I’m doing and take the time to learn a bit more about another part of the world. Who knew that a farm kid from northern Alberta could do what I’m doing and have the ability to impact not only the lives of the Congolese people who came to the MSF hospital but also those of you checking in from whichever corner of the world you find yourself living.

If you are interested in learning more about the DRC, there are 2 books that I have read and would strongly recommend.

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (Adam Hochschild 2006) is a well written account of the colonization of the Congo in the late 1800s. This book is read like a novel with main characters, a plot and a lot of intrigue and that is not a bad way to read about history. It touches everything from the scramble for the “dark continent” to the early days of colonial exploitation to the first ever global human rights campaign and it gave me fascinating insight into the not so distant past of the DRC.

Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart (Tim Butcher 2007), starts in the present and provides a very different view of modern day Congo by retracing the route used by H.M. Stanley when he discovered the Congo River and became the first European to cross the continent of Africa on foot. It is a combination of travelogue, adventure story and historical account and the author’s trip was completed in 2004, portraying a Congo very similar to the one that I found myself living in these past 6 months. This book bridges the gap between King Leopold’s Congo and the Congo of today and is a readable way to learn about a country with an incredibly complex past and just as confusing present.

Finally, please continue to visit www.msf.ca to get the latest on MSF, where we work and what we believe in.

Sincerely,
Grant Assenheimer

Grant A |  Shamwana at first light

Photo: Grant A | Shamwana at first light

5 Responses to “Thanks”

  1. Rick McCharles Says:

    Thanks Grant.

    It’s been informative reading your posts from Africa.

  2. Tom (Germany) Says:

    Thank you very much for having written this blog.
    Excellent job!

  3. Melanie Says:

    Today I found and read your entire blog. I thank you for writing during your entire 6 month term and sharing with the rest of your world your experiences. It really touched me.

  4. André Clément Says:

    Grant, I’m a Canadian considering a one year assignment with a justice project that would have me working in the DRC provinces. Crisis Group and embassy sites describe a multitude of conflicts and warring factions that result in 1,200 daily deaths from hostile actions, disease and malnutrition to spell out anarchy and chaos across the DRC. Is it as bad as they describe? Or is there some degree of stability and a measure of security that allows for constructive work and minimal successes?

    André

  5. granta Says:

    Hey Andre,

    Thanks for the questions! I guess it really does depend where you end up. All of my writing is based on my experience in the southern province of Katanga. Between 2003 and 2005, I hear that this was not a very pleasant place to be. However, in 2010 things are pretty different as I was definitely working in what could only be termed a “stable post conflict” environment. There is a brutal history of rape, disease, malnutrition, intimidation and outwrite violence again the population. It is now much less obvious and, on the surface, things appear incredibly poor but stable and safe. It is only when you dig a bit deeper that you start to get into the bigger issues. So, in Katanga, it isn’t really so IN YOUR FACE as you might expect.

    …but that is in Katanga. I cannot really comment about the Kivus or the border region with Uganda. I have also heard of these atrocious stories. Regardless, from what I understand, the simple fact that you are foreign offers a large degree of protection and I think that the “humanitarian worker” in the DRC is still largely respected.

    Good luck!

    Grant