AusHeal Blog

Short and sweet ………. or maybe not so sweet

MONDAY 30th JULY 2012

This is our final newsletter before we leave Goma. We are nearing the end of the day and the end of our stay here.


Many of you will know of the security issues surrounding Goma at this time. Some of you will know of an attempted evacuation of us on Saturday night, which was unsuccessful because we were not allowed across the Rwandan border. This all took place about 9pm Saturday night. We had exited Congo but were not allowed into Rwanda so we were ‘stuck’ in a small strip of ‘no man’s land’ !

It was all to do with the date on our Rwandan visa approval being 31st July and we were trying to cross on the 28th July. So we were not allowed into Rwanda. We returned to Congo with the assistance of Dr Jo Lusi who convinced the Congolese to cancel our exit visas. We had packed in such a hurry after being advised by the senior staff of the hospital that we should move out of Goma following reports the town would not be safe on Saturday night and Sunday. We returned to our accommodation at Maji and went to bed, trusting that God was still in control of everything and that if there was nothing else we could humanly do, we just ‘wait it out’.


U.N. peacekeepers in an APC patrol a key road linking Goma and Rutshuru in eastern Congo



Sunday was quiet as usual but we still did not venture out in the morning.  We spent time in the afternoon with our Congolese ‘daughter’ who has become very special to us and whom we are sponsoring through her Accountancy studies.  Then in the evening we took Neil’s colleague, Dr Luc and his wife Stephanie, out for dinner.  Again another special time – so we are really glad that we did come back into Goma.

Monday has been ‘life as usual’ and this morning’s reports indicated that there had been no developments in the security situation.  Soldiers and the UN are visible on the streets but not much activity in the skies.    Apparently there were talks/negotiations over the weekend which halted the conflict – but things may ‘hot up’ again at any time. So we spend tonight at our accommodation at Maji, say farewell tomorrow morning in the Chapel service and then make our way to the Rwandan border again…. on the correct date!
Image 1
Photo : Neil, Dr Luc (Director fo Surgery), Gwen & Dr Muller (Emergency Medicine) outside the operating block
Most of Neil’s surgical patients are doing well and he has been able to achieve much in the two weeks here.


The ABC’s Africa Correspondent, Ginny Stein, has been here today filming and interviewing us about our work here at HEAL Africa and our commitment to the work, even during a time of conflict.  She went to the doctors meeting and then accompanied Neil on a ward round.
Farewells:Saturday night, leaving in a hurry, and not having the opportunity to say goodbye was difficult. More difficult, however, was the thought that our Congolese friends wanted us to flee to safety and here we were heading towards the border knowing that we were leaving our dear friends behind in a situation that was so unknown.  Their response – “we live with it – every day’.  It has been good to be here these past 2 days to complete those things we came to do.

So as we farewell our friends here, we also look forward to returning home to our families.  Thanks again everyone for your interest and support.
Neil and Gwen