For those of you only interested in a photo:
Yesterday I had lunch with a new fellow at one of our agencies. She receives a housing stipend but is a graduate of some genre of Catholic school that has a worldwide guest house system. So, during her stay here, she decided to live with the nuns. In a city as expensive as Kinshasa (for expats), this is an incredibly economic move.
She seems to be enjoying living with the nuns – they watch movies, mostly West African, each Sunday as part of a cultural program linked with the cultural center next door. They feed her daily, so she has nourishment and community.
And, we were talking about tonight’s inaugural SnB meeting, and she told me that one of the nuns is a prolific and dedicated knitter.
Now this may not seem too out of the ordinary, knitting in front of a movie, but I know only two other people (and only one of them Congolese) in Kinshasa that told me they know how to knit. There are very few formal stores to speak of in this country, so definitely no yarn stores, although I wonder what you could come up with in the local market. I would imagine the quality would be along the lines of a worsted acrylic, and not produced locally. There was only one place that produced cotton cloth that I know of in Kinshasa, and it recently changed its focus to eliminate the cloth…
There are also no fiber-producing animals to speak of. Heck, you can’t even find a milk-producing animal in Kinshasa. After more than one year living here and three + years traveling here, I finally spotted cows a few weeks back. There are a lot of goats around, outside of the CBD, but the cows are mysteriously not in evidence. In fact, I caught sight of the herd only after dark, and turning a corner off the main road to some secret location around the corner. The main reason, I guess, aside from poverty, is twofold – the weather in the eastern part of the country is cooler, but these more tropical temps don’t support large livestock, and also it is not easy to maintain a hygenic product. Today at lunch, I asked a Kinoise woman about the locally produced drinkable yogurt (which I don’t necessarily recommend, also for hygiene reasons). She said she suspects it is made from powdered milk. There is NO fresh milk to be found here!