Thursday, February sixth.
Jim rapped on my door at 6:00 A.M. We had to be at the Bujumbura International Airport by 6:45 to catch the World Food Program plane to Ngosi. We were 30 minutes early and the airport was totally vacant. Up to four months ago, the airport was only a couple of miles within contested territory. Despite this being a domestic flight I still had to go through some exit formalities, security check, and passport review. We flew in a 17-seat twin engine otter. There were only five of us.
The airfield at Ngozi was a bare laterite strip, with a small shed at one end in the middle of pasture and maize fields. I rode with one of the WFP guys into town. We finally found the UNHCR office who was going to make the run to the border. I hitched a ride, crossed with no problem and my guys were waiting with the land cruiser. We stopped at Butare for lunch. Then we stopped at the university forestry station to purchase one kilogram of seven tree.
I am big on tress. This is a great food for work project. Tees provide soil conservation, wood for energy, fodder for cattle, lumber, logs for bridges, hoe handles, plus wildlife cover, food, and esthetic appeal. This time around I am pushing for more fruit trees. We still have functioning nurseries from the work we did two years ago.
Got home as a treasonable time. Dave was there. He had stayed in Kibuye two days beyond the time everyone else left. Got some great people on the team.
Friday, February seventh.
I spent most of the day working out of Gitarama. I sent Dave and Pete into Kigali to chase down supplies, including seed, and arrange transportation. I was sure there was a US embassy’s security meeting. Being the only American, I went in at 4:00 P.M. No meeting. There was a Canadian security meeting, however. They stayed in town for the meeting and later hanging out with the Food for the Hungry team. I got home just at dusk. This was my first time alone. Everything was fine.
Saturday, February eighth.
We had several visitors today. Jean Paul and myself worked on a program with Stephan the agronome on when, where, and how to set up a tree nursery.
In the afternoon Dave and Pete returned. At the security meeting they learned some details of the human rights killing. The British man’s body was 100 feet from the car and his head was on the front seat. His hands had lots of cuts indicating he had tried to fend off blows to his head. I did not need to hear this. It is starting to bother me a lot. I had to take a walk. These kinds of killings are not rational. They are just killers. The only way, I believe, to stop these people, is to kill them.
We struggle with these questions:
- Are these killing arbitrary, randon, or planned and premeditated?
- Do these formal militia know us, where we live, where we go, what we do? Does it make a difference to them?
I am not afraid to die so much as I do not want my death to be an accident or random death. I want to say goodbye to my family. The fact is I do not want to die yet! Does one, ever? My emotions go from fear to boldness. This is getting too dicey!
Darn, the lorry returned from Kibuye. They were supposed to stay there to assist in the distribution Monday through Wednesday. Miscommunication.
Sunday, February ninth.
No church. Stayed home to get the financials and materials orders together for Janet who will be taking over from me. She and Keith are flying in Tuesday. Dave and Pete left for Kampala to obtain reentry visas hopefully longer than what they came in with. We cannot obtain work permits even though the government is fully aware of what we are doing and our work organization is in registration process. Sent another load down to Kibuye with hoes and maize seed. I don’t usually work on Sunday nor have staff do so but we do not want to drive before sunrise on Monday morning.
I just received a phone call. The government just announced over the radio, he said, for all expatriates to return to Kigali or Butare. Those were the only safe areas they could guarantee. Oh great! The place appears calm, peaceful, idyllic even. I did phone our regional office in Nairobi. I was told to go to Kigali if I felt I should I felt like a wimp preparing to depart. How can I ask my guys to visit the communes, continue the work, when I run off to hide? I decided to stay. I do not think I am being foolish…I know I should have gone to church.