AusHeal Blog

This is Goma, where we live !!

Gwen & Neil Wetzig

Gwen & Neil Wetzig write:

“We are constantly reminded of the richness, vibrancy and colour of where we are living….” 

Leaving the hospital at 6pm one Friday night, we walked out the back entrance to find everything in the street had stopped still – for the first time in 12 years we had come across the flag-lowering tradition where everything and everyone stops – until the flag has been lowered – and then everything and everyone just start moving again.  (We had experienced this in the mornings at 7.30am when the flag was raised – and often wondered if the same occurred in the evenings!)

Things that women carry on their heads here…..

  • up to 20 cabbages in a bowl
  • a large sack of powdered milk the size of a cement bag (carried upright, not flat!!!)
  • a vacuum cleaner →
  • a single boot
  • up to 5 or 6 layers of fresh eggs in cardboard layers

Things that are carried on motos (motorbikes) here…..

  • 2 wooden chairs (right)                  
  • Large window frames
  • Long lengths of piping
  • Car tyres
  • Fresh meat – carcass of a cow
  • A female passenger hugging on to a live turkey under her arm

Things carried here on tshukudus (wooden push-bikes) pronounced ‘chookoodoo’

  • 2-3 large sacks of charcoal (right) – and when one topples off, other tshukudu ‘pushers’ stop to help
  • Multiple large sacks of potatoes and other produce to and from markets
  • Cupboards, beds and other furniture
  • Image by Albert Kambale – AFP News


“Reminders of our surrounding reality ….”

  •  Farewelling our team at Goma airport, the airstrip was dotted with lots of aircraft…including those of the UN / Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) / World Food Program / Aide Humanitaire
  •  During a prayer in church the pastor said he was “grateful to be among those who are alive today”
  •  Where the leader of the country, scheduled to step aside in 2016, has agreed to elections in December this year, but blocked opposition candidates from participating or entering the country to register.
  •  Where our HEAL Africa Hospital Emergency Physician is communicating to students from the local deaf school about ‘the E-word’….EBOLA and its prevention, and, where for 2 consecutive days he has been ‘in the field’ educating the community about Ebola prevention
  • Where reports from the town of BENI (500km north of GOMA) revealed last weekend was so stressful in the city following the attack by rebels from a neighbouring country. The attack occurred in the middle of the town killing 19 persons including 15 civilian and 4 soldiers. Many others were wounded and treated.
  • Also, 6 persons travelling by bus from GOMA to BUTEMBO (60kms south of Beni) were reported to be kidnapped by another group of rebels.  There is enough difficulty taking care of both victims of the current Ebola outbreak and the wounded. It is really is a very complicated situation. (Something like 88 have died from this highly contagious disease outside BENI.)
  • The President of the nation was in New York this month addressing the United Nations General Assembly 
  • Where, during a COSECSA Training session on ‘spleens’, one of the Trainers mentioned that “if there is a war with the elections, there may be spleen injuries”

Storm passing over our accommodation on the shore of Lake Kivu


This is the end of September when there is less than 3 months till the scheduled December election

“This is life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. …..This is Goma where we live!”