Sister Célestine lives in Isiro, the provincial capital, about 450 km to the west. During a visit to the parish in our area, she looks at fields that have been planted according to the 4Pijler method. Célestine is immediately interested. A week later she sends her nephew to follow practical training. In Isiro she now also wants to work with the 4Pijler method. This is a good reason for us to travel to the provincial capital. The Catholic sisters receive us generously in their guest house with three substantial meals a day. We are guests with them for three days. Celestine is an educated woman. She teaches law at the university and speaks impeccable French. As Mother Superior and leader of the convent of nuns, she is responsible for the agricultural projects of her parish. This is a 65-hectare site in the wooded area of Isiro. She wants to apply the 4Pijler method throughout this area. What a fantastic promotion of our work!
In Isiro we present the 4 Pillars in different churches with a seminar and practical training. We pay a visit to the provincial minister of agriculture. The 4Pillar method is well received by him. So much so that he and his private guard join us on a field visit. The gouvernour’s agricultural advisor is also there. They follow the explanation Roelof gives with interest. Celestine is there with some of the nuns and interested people from different churches. Roelof shows how to plant in non-ploughed soil. And does a small test for the acidity and composition of the soil. The minister and the advisor are on the nose. Sister Celestine keeps the atmosphere going with a spontaneous song about the 4Pillars.
Mungbere is on the route to Isiro. The people here had repeatedly asked us to come. On the way there, we will spend a few days with Church leaders and conduct seminars and hands-on training. Mungbere is located in the middle of the tropical rainforest. We sleep in the deacon’s house, a cabin with a canopy. The deacon’s wife is very proud that we have come to sleep in her house. In the evening, a bucket of warm water puts down for us to wash with.
The people can only work very small pieces of land. It is hard work to cut down a piece of jungle for agriculture. The first year you can grow well on it, but then the weeds start to proliferate. That is another reason to develop the next piece of forest and so it goes on. With the 4Pijler method people can continue to grow on a piece of land and the rainforest is spared. There is a lot of interest in the seminar with representatives from all different churches.
The journey to Isiro and back is an adventure in itself. Because our car is still not running, we take the Congolese public transport. We have no problems on the way to Mungbere. Then it starts. After two nights in Mungbere we want to continue to Isiro. We look for a bus or a taxi, but they don’t drive, it eventually becomes the motorcycle taxi. Roelof and I each on the back of a moped over 140 kilometers. After 5 hours of driving, a lot of dust, heat and fatigue, we arrive at the sisters in Isiro.
On the way back we have better luck: a bus goes close to Lanza! Everything goes smoothly all morning. Then the bus suddenly stops, in the middle of the jungle. What is going on? We take a look and see that the bridge is damaged. What now? Someone has already cut a tree from the forest with a chainsaw. Now the log must be towed to the bridge. All passengers on the bus work with all their might. They are working on it all afternoon. Little by little he comes closer. Ultimately, the gap is closed.
We can drive again. I get on the bus optimistically while most people are still outside to see how things are going. The joy does not last long, after a few meters it goes wrong. The bus deviates too much to the right, slips into the ditch and capsizes. There it hangs, stuck in the mud. Several attempts to pull it out fail. It is now dark. We will have to spend the night here, the driver announces. This is a night we will not soon forget. Sitting crookedly, 10 long hours, waiting for the morning. The Congolese accept it all resignedly. This is just part of the deal when you are traveling … The atmosphere in the bus remains good, even jokes are made. Then it finally becomes light and help arrives. The bus comes loose and here we go again. Without further delay we arrive home.