Postcard from...Goma


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The Independent Online


The city of Goma is as beautiful as it is dangerous. Positioned on the edge of war-torn eastern Congo, it is cursed with a multitude of natural and man-made threats.

The Nyiragongo volcano constantly spews clouds of smoke and the memory of the devastating eruption just over a decade ago remains in the memory of many residents. At least 15 per cent of the city was destroyed. The roads are now hazardous paths of solidified lava. To the south, Lake Kivu stretches as far as the eye can see – but a potentially fatal layer of poisonous gas lies beneath its shimmering waters. Against this background of latent natural disasters, deadly conflicts have forced over 80,000 people into camps around Goma.

But the wonderful thing about Goma is that despite its dangers, life continues regardless.

The resourcefulness of the people of Goma never fails to surprise and impress. Beautiful voices of church choirs ring out most mornings, the famous Congolese beats can be heard into the night and towering sunflowers mark the lava-strewn landscape.

Save the Children has been in eastern Congo since the refugees from the Rwandan genocide flooded into the country. Not many places are more in need of humanitarian aid, and not many places provide a more challenging – and rewarding – workplace.