I wanted to take a moment to share with you the experiences of my first full day in the Congo. Two things happened today.The first thing was that Mike (the other videographer on the trip) and I had to get photography permits from the local government to be allowed to shoot in the city. We were supposed to get them yesterday but the guy we needed wasn’t at the office when we got there. We paid someone a dollar to call him and he said he’d be there today. So this morning we went to his office and were told we would first need to go to the television station to get the forms and get them filled out. We then headed over to the TV station and met with someone there who began getting the forms together. He needed photocopies of our passports, for which we had to go outside to an area where several women were sitting along with copiers sitting in chairs beside the road. We paid a woman to make the copies and went back inside to the TV station office. After a long time there we got our forms filled out and were told we would first need to go to the military office down the road and get theirstamp of approval and then back to the local Intelligence Services director where we started. We met with a major in the Congo army’s press office and waited for them to stamp our forms. Once they eventually did, we headed back across town to the Intelligence office. After looking over the forms, he told us he would also need photocopies of our passport. So off we went to find a place to get copies. After returning again with the copies he asked us who invited us to the Congo and said he would need a copy of the written invitation letter. We went off to acquire the invitation and then returned yet again. This time he signed and stamped our forms and with half the day gone, we had accomplished our first goal.
Time to stop and take a deep breath.
Ok, now the second thing which excites me so much that I almost forget the preceding fiasco, we met a man named Prince who is a videographer and photographer here in Congo. He wants to open a studio here. Now for those of you who don’t know, in addition to creating a documentary for an American audience, I have a secondary goal here of learning how we can use film and other story-telling media for a Congolese audience, to inspire and motivate them. At one point I asked Prince how can we help the most. His answer was to say if you give a man a fish tomorrow he will die of hunger, but if you teach him to fish he will be able to survive on his own. He said what they need is training. We had some great conversation and later did some actual filming and got to teach Prince as we were shooting. Meeting with Prince was not a planned part of the trip but it is clear to me that God did plan for it. I look forward to seeing what else God has planned.