Marauding raiders continue to trouble rural areas in North Kivu. There is no government support at all, of any kind. Imagine if all government services we take for granted simply disappeared and armed troublemakers roamed the streets. No police, no hospitals, no utility workers, nothing.

Foreign aid workers can’t safely operate in these conditions. Fortunately, we have maintained connections to some valiant individuals such as Dorcas, Saasita and James. We had some discussions with Saasita to determine the best way that we could help in the area of Kalondo. We agreed that basic medical supplies may be subject to theft, but they are badly needed and locals can make good efforts to hide and safeguard them.

Working with a Butembo pharmacy and a budgeted amount, Saasita and the pharmacist determined what to buy. She then made the delivery arrangements. The supplies are essentially off the shelf materials but trained doctors or nurses in the area don’t exist. To have supplied more advanced medicines would have created serious risks such as overdosing so I think the pharmacists overall made a good call. Saasita can ask the locals if anything badly needed was missing. Many thanks to Saasita for her work in supporting the Kalondo community.

BensInCongo has supported multiple ventures through the granting of microloans. Here is the 2019 story of granting a local entrepreneur named Pascal a loan that enabled him to acquire a mini-van that he turned into a taxi-bus. He primarily used this taxi-bus on the Goma – Butembo route which had just re-opened.

That important route has now been closed for several months while fighting has come closer and closer to Goma. M23 rebels are now 20 – 25 km from Goma accordingly to recent reports.

The Congolese army (FARDC) has never had a reputation for professionalism. This short video captures a FARDC tank carelessly sideswiping a mini-van that was innocently parked at the side the street in Goma. What are the odds that the tank destroyed Pascal’s mini-van that BensInCongo financed and that it was caught on camera.

seigneur aie pitié means “Lord have mercy” in French

It is unfortunate that the taxi-bus was destroyed by the FARDC and not by MONUSCO where there would be at least a chance of compensation. This has now ruined Pascal’s means of earning a living. While Goma is in the midst of fighting, arranging to purchase a new vehicle will be a challenge.

Pascal needs help in his difficult situation. We can support him by sending funds directly to him via Remitly. Please consider how you can help.

Support for Pascal

BensInCongo will send 100% of your support directly to Pascal in Goma that will him and his family and additionally match the first $500. Please edit for your PayPal donation of any amount, from wherever you are in the world.


Comments on this blog tend to be well hidden but this comment from Andy is worth a repost. Andy, your comment is much appreciated and completely consistent with all our experience with MONUSCO.

Andy is doing some great work himself as per this article:


I, along with some of my teammates, have been following your blog for years now. I work for the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime as a wildlife crime investigator/anti-poaching and we have been dealing with the ongoing conflict at the Congolese/Rwandan border for years. Humanitarian crises are wildlife crises and we work alongside the ICCN Rangers of Virunga National Park. It is an unfortunate truth that one of the aspects of dealing with wildlife crime is counterinsurgency.

This speaks volume when UNODC is forced to investigator UN (in which they are under) – we are composed of scientists with former backgrounds in global military Special Operations Forces (SOF)/intelligence and the complacency and cowardice of the MONUSCO forces is embarrassing. A village was being razed and one of the local units failed mobilization because they were cowards and wouldn’t leave 150 meters from their compounds.

It seems that, without going into much public detail, active duty French SOF, Portuguese SOF and a few handful of good people (such as yourself) are trying to do good in a world in which the First World continues to ignore and neglect.

Thanks for the post, always keeping an eye out for more of your updates from your side of things.

It has been seven months since M23 rebels cut off the primary north / south road between Goma and Butembo. This is the key road that connects Goma, the capital of North Kivu, with the rest of North Kivu province. With all other routes already cut off, it is now reported that the last workaround route via the town of Kitshanga is no longer available as that town has also been captured by the rebels. (click to enlarge)

This has all the makings of a humanitarian catastrophe that the world is ignoring. This further isolates the city of Goma where there have been serious food and other shortages. Access to Rwanda remains, but basic items are either limited in supply or have much higher cost when coming from Rwanda. Our Goma block project has been on hold due to the tensions.

The M23 rebels are ethnically Congolese Tutsi, the same ethic group that suffered the bulk of the genocide in Rwanda. The president of Rwanda since 2000, Paul Kagame, is Tutsi. Many in Congo accuse Kagame of supporting the M23 rebels, something Kagame has always denied, but someone must be arming and funding the rebels. Congo has a porous jungle border on the east, enabling arms to be smuggled through either Rwanda or Uganda.

MONUSCO, the UN peace keeping force, remains in Congo with over 18,000 personnel. They are despised by the majority of Congolese due to their perceived ineffectiveness and corruption. Most contributor nations are happy to have the UN pay for their soldiers as a funded employment program but have no incentive to risk their lives in actual combat roles.

Turmoil continues near Butembo and the needs at the orphanage are constant. There are no government support or foreign agencies able to help. Can you?

Support for Orphans in Butembo

Bens In Congo will send 100% of your support directly to the Mama Dorcas orphanage for food and medicines and will match the first $2,000. Please edit for your PayPal donation of any amount, from wherever you are in the world.


The people of Congo have incredible needs. Our personal goal is to support people in eastern Congo in practical and effective ways. To that end, we have met urgent needs such as meeting medical bills and ensuring there is enough food at an orphanage. Where possible, we have tried to fund projects that will be able to generate income or to provide support for when our support is not available. This has resulted in our financing goats and chicken projects, inventory for sale at the Butembo market, sewing machines to produce saleable clothes and small loans for business. These financings have been about providing capital that would otherwise be unavailable.

With the help and supervision of James Kataliko, our latest project is now underway in Goma. James has organized a team that will produce concrete blocks in an area on the northwest outskirts of the city where there is demand for building materials.

This project is providing employment for several people. 25% of the income earned will be set aside quarterly for charitable or humanitarian purposes. Bonuses will be provided to employees and the balance of profits will be maintained in the business for growth and expansion.

The goal is for this project to be not just self-sufficient, but to be able to grow and thrive while supporting worthwhile humanitarian needs. It won’t be without its challenges. It’s hard work. The price of cement has increased beyond initial budgets. Quality levels have to be mastered and maintained. The loyalty of customers has to be earned. Theft of production or of the equipment is a huge risk. It is never easy for small entrepreneurs, but we have assembled a team up to the challenge.

An accountant has been identified who will work with James to provide a quarterly financial report. We are looking forward to receiving the first report.

A primary goal of our goat and chicken projects is to provide a means of providing sustainable and growing wealth. Beneficiaries initially receive a goat or chicken in exchange for a commitment to return a replacement animal back to local leaders after the initial animals have reproduced. As the animals reproduce, new wealth is created for the initial owners and then for the subsequent beneficiary owners. The program continually expands as new beneficiaries receive an animal. Local leaders can determine the initial distribution based on need, on perceived levels of responsibility or any criteria they choose.

An important aspect to this program is that the animal represent available wealth or a store of value to their owner. Many Congolese, most Congolese in rural areas, don’t have bank accounts. Animals can replace a bank account.

Mama Dusabe with her baby goats in Rutshuru

One of our beneficiaries of the Rutshuru area goat project was the widowed Mama Dusabe. Her goat had just provided her with two baby goats. Mama Dusabe told James Kataliko that at that time her child had become seriously ill, so she sold her first goat and was able to pay the bills for the medical care of her child.

This would not have been possible without having a store of value by owning a goat.

In Congo and the poorest areas of the world, it can be virtually impossible to save money because the needs in the family or of neighbours are so great. If you have money, you are expected to help. Maintaining your wealth in the form of livestock is an ancient and enduring method of maintaining a store of value that can be accessed in a pressing time of need.

Mount Nyiragongo has erupted and threatens Goma for the first time since 2002 when lava flows killed hundreds and destroyed the airport.

So far, lava has primarily flowed east towards Rwanda but flows have also destroyed some suburb areas of Goma to the south of the volcano. Thousands have needed to flee and many areas have been destroyed. The main road north to Ruthshuru, home of our recent goat project, has been cut off. Thankfully, the flows have sparred downtown Goma and the most densely populated parts of this area of two million people, but the danger is not yet over.

We had planned to visit Goma in 2011, but changed our plans at the last minute. This old post explains why Goma has been called the World’s Most Dangerous City.

Based on the success of earlier goat projects, James Kataliko has helped to organize a new project in Rutshuru which is only 7 km from the Ugandan border. As before, ten recipients received a female goat (a nanny) with a promise to return a baby goat (kid) in the future. Billy goats are maintained by the village and loaned out. In the future, local leaders will distribute the kids received to new recipients and the cycle will continue. This a self-sustaining investment designed to create enduring wealth in a practical form.

For this project, James was able to identify an area where a group of women and widows were identified to be the initial recipients.

One recipient of a nanny goat is Claudine, now 15 years old. When 13 she had been raped by rebels. Our hope is that this project will help people like her to get established. The women receiving goats are said to be elated and very hopeful with this project.

Delivery of the goats wasn’t without issues. James arranged to have a minivan transport the goats from nearby Kiwanja to Rutshuru, but the roads had many barricades established by Congolese soldiers due to the history of trouble in the area. James had to repeatedly talk his way through the requests for money.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 66 other subscribers


Prior Posts