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Generosity, Gratitude and Doughnuts

March 17, 2013

With Girls at FArm ONE BILLION RISING!!!

It has been about a month since returning from Democratic Republic of Congo.  I am gradually realizing that it’s taking a while to wrap my being around a week that has had such a profound impact on the way that I see my life. What stirs still, is witnessing the impossible human conditions in the midst of the joy, the love, the pure generosity and gratitude expressed by my travel mates and the Congolese people. I don’t think life ever gets back to “normal” when one is deeply moved as we were on this journey. This spiritual and real life experience is overwhelming. It continues to manifest in my life through the politics of local and global food, farming, hunger, and injustice. Travel and opening one’s eyes to differences contributes to thinking outside of our own box and that nothing is too big to change; one person, one organization, or each of us doing what we can, as often as we dare.

The dichotomy of life in Bukavu and rural Africa can’t help but make one reflect on our own way of living. How to put it into perspective, reintegrate, not react, assimilate expectations versus perceived reality left me, and I think others, searching for balance and what to do next.

eve, christine, Dr.


During our time in DRC we were in the midst of many real life action heroes. They are the warriors for peace, love and human rights who exemplify humility, love and revolutionary pursuits. Eve Ensler, Dr. Mukwege and  Christine Schuler-Deschryver lead the way. But, we also met and shared huge hugs with many,  who show up every day, doing the work and supporting the causes. They don’t like to be thanked, but it is impossible to not acknowledge the generous and courageous support of these people as well as organizations like The 11th Hour Project and The Schmidt Family Foundation.

For me, the trip to DRC was too short.  I struggled to ingest all that was happening, minute to minute every hour of the day.  Last year when I went to Rwanda, after my travel companions went home,  I checked into a local hotel and stayed on my own for an extra 9 days. It was grounding, and helped to get past that word foreign and I became more relaxed with people and situations. Next visit I hope to do the same and spend more time, especially cooking with the locals.

When traveling, I am always in search of the kitchen. Cooking with others is a way to experience everyday life, no matter what that might be.  It is a vehicle to hear family and traditional stories while chopping, stirring and putting together a meal. The cooks in most parts of the world are women/mamas.  Though I didn’t get to cook this time, an expectation that admittedly took some time to let go of,  but  it would be wonderful to go back someday to be in the midst of the mama’s wisdom as we prepare something wonderful over an open fire.



One of my favorite memories in Bukavu, happened on the day we bought doughnuts on Essence Road, the only route to City of Joy.  Knowing my food curiosity, Thomas, our awesome translator and guide, jumped out of the vehicle and bought a few dozen. The doughnuts were heavy, warm, slightly sweet and so yummy. Besides making us all deliciously happy, those doughnuts inspired ideas to develop more options for similar inexpensive, calorie dense  “street food” using simple, local ingredients. Maybe this will someday become an entrepreneurial possibility for the women of City of Joy using produce from V-farm!

team planning v farm


Yes, everyday was as amazing as doughnut day. We spent a day at V-Farm and it is breath taking. We walked the diverse landscape of  fertile fields for hours.  It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful farms that I have ever experienced. Those who were there last year witnessed the changes! It was so gratifying to see tilapia ponds, hogs growing fat, and rice, corn and vegetable fields flourishing. V-Farm will provide work and food for so many. It is seeding the development of small agrarian based entrepreneurial endeavors  and nourishment with each new planting.

Taking action once home is happening.  It is easy to get back to life and forget that promise to keep showing up. So, Flea Street and all of the staff in the restaurants are going to do what we can to support City of Joy and V-Farm!   We are also really excited about our sponsorship for the next four years of a young woman through ABA ROLI in becoming an attorney in DRC! For more info:

Now, if I can only learn how to make those doughnuts…the memory would linger even longer!


  1. Rita Williams permalink

    I so enjoyed this…the way you have processed your experience. We can talk more when I REALLY retire. Soon. Are you okay with saying something about your auction item that night ???

  2. Thank you for deeply sharing your observations and feelings.
    Programs like this need more exposure to assist in fund raising and raise awareness. Thank you and the whole group for putting yourself in harm’s way and bringing hope and dignity to everyone involved.

  3. Elizabeth Fenwick permalink

    Good Morning It was good to read your posts

    I made it home last night , it feels so good to be in my bed. this morning while Molly and I were on the phone the tornado sirens went off. She gathered baby and dogs to go to the safe bathroom while I looked up tornado warning info on the web good use of tech/phones/web. We stayed on the phone the whole time until the warning was over. I hate Tornados give me an earthquake any day .

    Reeves is coming up with a great trip Idea for us in Mississippi . Back roads blues and Barbecue a stay at their cabin on the Mississippi . Places nobody but the locals know about. I will send photos when I get them. Oxbff

  4. Love reading your perspective, Jesse. It would be so amazing to cook with you and the locals in Congo! Alas, to be continued….xx

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