“Because of Ebola I am sitting here and talking to you. I haven’t been able to cross the border in two weeks. We are praying to cross soon again and start working.”

Quote and photo from the field. By ESR Suvi Lensu.

2019.10.02 | Mia Korsbæk

The picture was taken at the Goma-Gisenyi border crossing; the signpost informs passengers about the dangers of Ebola and how to effectively protect oneself from contagion.

 

All ESR's are on fieldwork in various parts of Africa in 2019. As part of the dissemination they will be sending a photo and a quote from the field while they are away.   

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This photo and quote from the field comes from ESR Suvi Lensu who is doing her fieldwork in Rwanda on women’s livelihoods in a borderland setting. Read more about her research here.

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“Because of Ebola I am sitting here and talking to you. I haven’t been able to cross the border in two weeks. We are praying to cross soon again and start working.”

-  Bless, August 2019, Rwanda

 

Bless lives in Rwanda but works in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her livelihood is based on cross-border business and crossing over to Congo. She usually crosses the border every week and works in various jobs in Goma for a few days.

 

Ebola has been prevalent in the eastern part of Congo, in Kivu Province, for over a year now. Since the epidemic spread to Goma, the capital of Kivu province, in July 2019 people’s movements between Rwanda and DRC have been restricted. Goma is a so-called twin city to Gisenyi in Rwanda. The border between Goma and Gisenyi is one of the busiest ones in Africa. Estimated 50 000 people cross the frontier daily. People on both sides rely their livelihood on cross-border trade. Many work or go to school on the other side but live on the other side of the border.

 

Since the Ebola outbreak in Goma, Bless like so many others have not been able to cross the border between Gisenyi and Goma as frequently as usual. Ebola is a highly contagious and oftentimes lethal disease that spreads via body liquids. Rwanda has taken strict measurements by educating people on the importance of washing hands. At the border crossing, each passenger has their temperature measured. Fever is one of the first signs of Ebola.

 

Although the outbreak is under control people on both sides of the Rwanda-DRC border are still scared. In addition to the fear of catching the disease, many are afraid of how the outbreak affects on the cross-border business in a long run.

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