Safe room

Every day is a new day in our little town. Our trip to the mountains was cancelled twice this week due to weather or security reasons.

We awoke to the sound of gunshots at 6am on Thursday morning. They were louder than normal. All the expats and our guards and driver piled into the safe room. This is a rather uncomfortable small space underneath our stairs which is protected by concrete and sandbags. I am glad that Claudio was with me.

Our safe room has communication equipment and we were able to keep in touch with the guards at our office and the health post. A large number of our national staff had also sought refuge in the safe room at the office.

Apparently a number of soldiers had not been paid. As a result, they attempted to pillage some houses in town. In order to repel them, the military police together with the community started shooting and throwing stones at them. The gunfire lasted for 3 hours. 12 gunshot injuries were received in the hospitals. Soon after the weaponfire ceased, life on the streets resumed activity as per normal. Our local deejay started playing his loud music on the street, children started playing in the streets and Mamas started going to the market. I am not sure if this is resilience on the part of the community or a form of disassociation and coping with stress.

On a happier note, Claudio and his team of counselors performed a play which addressed issues ranging from domestic violence, rape and alcoholism. I watched them perform in one of the IDP camps near our house. Although it was only seven in the morning, there was big crowd of spectators. Claudio played his part very convincingly in Swahili. It was a lively spectacle and much interaction between spectators and actors. Loud applause for the heroes and boos for the villains. One of the more ancient Camp representatives waved a big stick at the ‘drunk’ actor and shouted out ‘people like you are not allowed in our camp….beware of loose women… they will always take your money and leave you!’

We are all a little tired. Most of the team has gone to Mweso to participate in a football game. I very much look forward to pottering around the garden and kitchen this weekend.




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2 Responses to Safe room

  1. Maria says:

    This is great therapy and a great blog. Thanks Angie!.. What we often refer to as the mental health perspective is really a psychosocial perspective… managing the social issue that can cause psychological distress before it has the time to root in the victim’s psyche. .Am going to post it on the ifpsw (international foundation for psychosocial wellness) Facebook page. We just posted another MSF blog yesterday… and there are lots of msfers there too if you want to join (it’s free :) ) –
    Maria (MHO Congo B 2006-7)

  2. Lydia says:

    Is it even possible to begin to prepare for living in such uncertainty?