Travel journal from DR Congo – Episode 4: Surprising encounters

Travel journal from DR Congo – Episode 4: Surprising encounters

… Yesterday evening I went with friends and colleagues to a screening of the film Benda Bilili ! at the French cultural centre : it was fun, pleasantly funny, moving as well because it showed us this city in which we live, these men, women and children that we see around us without noticing them the majority of the time. In any case, this is very much the ambiance of the film. It’s Kinshasa, it’s my new home. I therefore strongly recommend you see this film if you want to have a bit more of a concrete idea of the context. Some of the scenes in the film are even filmed at the French cultural centre where yesterday we were in the company of the directors, and where a good number of more or less formal events are organised.


Another pleasant surprise from yesterday evening was that I realised I have started to get to know a good number of people… it’s not Kigali, Yaoundé, Harare or even Brazza just on the other side of the river. Here, it’s a humanitarian hub, the country is a real continent and you really meet all sorts of people. The whole array of humanity seems to be represented… a real godsend !

In the same place where you go out with a mate, you can just as well engage in a conversation with investor working for themselves (on the march for the country’s natural resources or property developers from Libya, China, ….), expatriates from Nestle or Canal +, the diplomat freshly dispatched from their capital, the adventurous photographer, the slightly shady mercenary, the presumptuous UN official or the Western living their own story of exotic love… it’s an extremely interesting world to observe, sometimes revolting, sometimes fascinating !


However it’s not a ‘life’ as one would normally understand it. Here we are all alone, or rather, all alone together. Lots have been married but are no longer, others manage to maintain a relationship beyond the borders, and then others don’t even try… People suffer from that, a sort of expatriate syndrome of always moving forward, the majority of the time alone, for passion, for ‘the mission’, or just because the life here gives you out of the ordinary adrenaline, and you forget that the rest of the world continues to go on in spite of the « morass »/ « happiness » (it depends on the day) to which you give your body and soul.

To be continued…


Illustration by Winnie de Schaetzen for Pona Bana

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Anne Cecile Vialle

Anne-Cecile Vialle est chargée d’Assurance Qualité pour le bureau UNICEF RDC. Elle parcourt le pays pour appuyer les bureaux terrain dans l’execution des programmes, pour proposer au management des options visant à augmenter l’efficience et l’efficacité des procédures de travail internes, et in fine visant à optimiser la qualité et durabilité des impacts de l’UNICEF pour les enfants et les femmes en RDC. Son leitmotiv: il y a toujours plus de solutions que de problèmes

Anne-Cecile Vialle is responsible for Quality Control at UNICEF DRC. She travels the country supporting field offices in the implementation of programmes, helping management increase the efficiency and effectiveness of internal work procedures and ultimately optimizing the quality and sustainability of UNICEF’s impact on women and children in the DRC. Her leitmotiv: There are always more solutions than problems!

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