Today's blog is from JR's fearless leader, founder Cassandra Lee. Cassandra has been going to DRC for several years and has seen it in peace, as well as conflict. Here is a moment from her life in DRC when it wasn't so calm.

“Ta ta ta ta ta ta ta.”

Machine gun fire rang out as I swiped my eyelashes with their first stroke of my daily make up.

“The shots came from up the hill, close to the government soldiers base", we were informed by the sub-chief, aka our bush papa. Somehow he always learns information faster than anyone else.

We’re not unfamiliar with gunshots, but during such sensitive periods of on again -off - again war, it’s always good to find out their exact locations from where they took off and where they landed.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t much of an immediate concern. We began our meetings still a little groggy with only one cup of tea in me. The first appointment of the day was a sweet young soldier.  He had been demobilized for 3 years and was no older than a child sitting before us.

We met with him. We met with his family. We began to make arrangements to bring him to Goma to start over.

Time ticked slowly as we made the village rounds and we gradually headed up to the UN base for a security check. We wanted to ask a few questions about the landing point of several dozen bullets from the morning.

From their makeshift tented office, the UN described it simply: “Well, rebel soldiers came in, killed a government soldier, then fled. We’re on high alert but we’re hoping it will calm down soon. Lay low today and we’ll stop by your house tonight or tomorrow for another update”(These rebels were responsible for much of the acts in Rwanda’s ’94 genocide).

Heading down the mountain, we tried to carry on as usual, foregoing any more village visits. Lunch. School construction. Play with my puppy. That’s when we were interrupted. My team member and myself were walking home from the school when we heard it again: “ta ta ta ta ta ta”.

Rapid gunfire from young men holding Kalashnikovs. Thirty seconds later women began running frantically in our direction.

“TURN AROUND!” they rattled in Swahili, “They’ve entered the village! RUN!"

We didn’t have to ask whom but as rookies in a rebel raid, we still didn’t quite understand what was going on. We did know the look in the women’s eyes though; it was sheer panic and absolute terror. On a dime, we turned and started running with them, awkwardly laughing and occasionally glancing over our shoulders to see if we should be ducking at the resounding gunfire.



...To Be Continued in Part 2