Have you ever wondered about the true value of travel? As the Congolese have wisely said, “he who does not travel does not know the value of people…” This is certainly the case for the courageous travelers who navigate through the forsaken region of South Kivu. The town of Shabunda, one of the most remote places in the Congo, is where our journey begins.
Junior and Juvenal embark on an old German military truck, their steel giant’s 8-wheel drive taking them up to three weeks, depending on the season, to travel the 70km to reach the town. The road they travel through the jungle often resembles a mud bath, and petrol is imported via truck, as it’s too dangerous to carry by air, driving commodity prices to soar. It’s so difficult to reach Shabunda that the cost of living is higher there than in any European city, a bottle of water costing 5 dollars.
Despite these obstacles, more than 80,000 people remain in Shabunda, and there’s a reason why. The bed of the river flowing around the town hides a huge treasure: vast gold resources. The poorest families fetch food on bicycles or motorcycles from the end of the track and carry astounding amounts of food weighing up to 250kg through the mud for three days.
This is the reality faced by the 6 million Congolese inhabitants of the Kivu region, who battle on day after day. If you’re interested to know more about the lives of the people of South Kivu, you should watch the documentary on it.