Initially, I couldn't help but be slightly apprehensive of the reception we would receive as foreigners in this vibrant place. And the warnings from random online publications and my family and friends dully swirled around in my head, but the reality couldn't be further from their fears.
We made a point to see ordinary schools, shops and more. We watched basketball games in courts somewhat strategically placed in the heart of the community. Spirited school children and gifted athletes sparkled against the rundown yet equally bright landscapes. As we set off on our adventure and explored, the everyday people of Kinshasa stopped to greet us, rolling down their car windows and honking their horns to say hello. Perhaps they could sense our worry and wanted to put us at ease; in any case, it felt as if we were long-lost relatives returning home and being embraced.
The hum of the city felt both alien and familiar. The constantly gridlocked, dusty and unfinished roads stretched before us. Cars, motorbikes and taxis filled the streets with passengers trying to get home after a long day at work. And strangely in that moment, seeing them all spilling out of the vehicles, I was reminded of home.
Etched in my mind, heart and soul until the end of time, this trip has made me so grateful and blessed. I'm extremely lucky that I met the people of Kinshasa.