Late Thursday afternoon 55 Vermonters -- about 30 students and faculty from Saint Mike's, the rest members of the local Congolese community (and a few, like my friends Cleophace and Pierre, who are both) loaded up the bus and headed out for the 10+ hour drive to the Nation's capitol. The next day we held a big noon-time rally directly in front of the state department, complete with drumming, a song in Swahili that Naweza patiently taught us on the bus ride down, speeches, and most importantly, an appearance by a number of state department officials working on African issues who came down and asked to meet with some of our leaders. One of the chief demands they discussed was our call for a special envoy to the Great Lakes region. Given that the Congo is (and has been for 15 years) experiencing the greatest devastation caused by conflict on the planet (more deaths, rape and murders than Iraq, Afghanistan and the Sudan combined), we believe that the focused attention that a special envoy could bring to the conflict is obviously warranted, and in fact, long overdue.
|One of the best things about being political in Washington DC is the chance to see some of my favorite alumni. Here I am (complete with rain-soaked hair and a Michelle Duggar-esque t-shirt and long skirt ensemble) with Kelly and Siham.|
|Sam, Alexsis and Alyssa -- we thought we were early, but actually we were just waiting on the wrong side of the state department building. (Alyssa has her own blog: get her version of events at http://alyssasmc.blogspot.com/)|
|Tigist and mom (my sister Katrinka) hanging out at the New England Aquarium.|
|Siham joined us for dinner Sunday night. She and Tigist share an unusual hobby, namely finding the teeniest tortilla chips in the basket to eat.|
|Although Tigist was too little to appreciate it, we had dinner at the Border Cafe in Cambridge because it has special significance to Katrinka and Brian -- it's the place they met. Here they are with Siham, Tig and Brian's colleague, Kell.|
|Saying goodbye to Tig before heading back to Burlington Monday morning.|