In August Fr John Kirwan mhm returned to the diocese of Basankusu, situated in a remote area of the central rainforest in DR Congo, after an extended medical leave in Britain.
His first email communication from there illustrates the frustrating difficulties of communicating from the depths of the rainforest in a country that some consider a ‘failed state’.
PAX Bonkita 29 Aug 2017
Mbote na bino. I am writing this in Bonkita, where there is no internet connection, in the hope of being able to send it from Basankusu tomorrow evening.
Francis Hannaway and I flew from Kinshasa to Mbandaka, the provincial capital, by commercial flight on Saturday 19 August as the private flight we were hoping for didn’t materialise. Some Basankusu clergy were on the flight, heading for their annual meeting in Bonkita, leaving Mbandaka the same day by river. We were able to join them and a number of other people… so I got my ‘cruise’ after all. The heavily loaded pirogue with a small outboard engine left on Saturday at 3.30 pm and arrived in Bonkita at 12.30 on Monday……!
We did have a few stops, but I reckon we were sitting in the craft for about 30 hours…..
Francis carried on to Basankusu (about another two hours) and I stayed here in Bonkita for the clergy retreat (Monday night to Saturday), a Bible apostolate meeting (Monday and Tuesday), both of which were very worth-while, and a general clergy meeting tomorrow. Then I hope to get to Basankusu at last.
Basankusu 2 Sept 2017
We arrived in Basankusu quite late on Wednesday, and there was no internet connection anyway. There was no connection on Thursday evening either. Yesterday there was some connection, but it was cut off before I could send this letter. Today, Saturday, the connection is intermittent and I have already lost one version of this letter this evening. There is no connection for the moment; perhaps it will come back before I go to bed.
I have landed into a series of meetings: the priests’ council today; then the diocesan pastoral council from Sunday evening to Thursday morning – back in Bonkita.
The present socio-political situation in the country is quite challenging!
Sunday: Trying again before heading to Bonkita
Saturday 09 Sept tried on Thursday and yesterday. No go.
Here we go again
Tuesday 12 September. Here we go again again. We had ordinations last Sunday a seven hour Mass.
Saturday 16 September Trying yet again!! John
Sunday 17th again….. John. And again and again and again…..
Wednesday 27 September
It’s now nearly a month since I started trying to send this by email. But our internet connection is still not functioning properly and the bishop’s and the sisters’ systems are not working either.
So we are going back to the telephone and snail mail (with no regular flights for that either).
John Kirwan mhm