Nyankunde is just a little over 15 miles from Bunia, the site of MAF’s main base in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in some ways it feels a lot farther removed. Bunia, while no metropolis, feels like a city; there is constant noise, people everywhere, and limited natural scenery. Nyankunde is much more tranquil, though paradoxically. Nestled in lush green hills in eastern Congo, it is a picturesque east African village. It’s home to a church-run hospital—the best in the region—and MAF’s recently reoccupied base.
I say “paradoxically” and “recently reoccupied” because a decade ago it was the site of inter-tribal clashes that left many casualties, and forced MAF to make a long-term evacuation to Uganda. We only started basing staff there again a few months ago. Today rebel militias are getting closer to Nyankunde. Conflict wrapped in tranquility—a good picture of Congo.
Yet, this is a place where we serve. Having an MAF presence there again encourages the local church and community. Seeing the airplane come and go shows them we’re in this together.
Last month we installed a VSAT and antenna systems to provide Internet service to the hospital staff and missionaries living at Nyankunde. In an area where even phone coverage is sketchy, the Congolese and expats I talked to were all so grateful for the improved communications opportunities. I’m sure it will really help in their work.
In a way it’s another kind of paradox to see Information Age technology in a part of the world that still lacks the things Westerners would consider basic necessities. It’s really cool to see, though, and it’s neat to think I got to play a small part in the work that is going on here by connecting these workers to the world!