Some useful information for our future volunteers

You are considering joining us as voluunteer? Well, here are some additional pieces of information for you. Do not hesitate to write us to [email protected] or call us to +243827332229 if you have more questions.

Where we are and how you get here?

CERC is situated in Bukavu, a major town in South Kivu province, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Option 1.

Bukavu town is situated 257 Km from Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Rwanda has an international airport and a national airport at Kamembe at 5 km from Bukavu if you book a flight from Kigali to Kamembe (near Bukavu). If you come from outside Africa, this is the easiest way to come to us. A taxi from Kigali International Airport into Kigali will cost you about $20 US, and a hotel room in Kigali costs about $30-$50 per night. Travel agencies operate border taxis daily between Kigali and Bukavu; the fare is about $10.00 US per person. You can hire an individual taxi from $100 from Kigali to Bukavu-Rwanda border.

Option 2.

The DRC has an international airport “Ndjili” and a network of national airports including the Kavumu National Airport located in Bukavu. You can book a flight from your country to Kinshasa, then book a domestic flight from Kinshasa to Bukavu which can only cost you $444 and only takes 6¼ hours. A taxi from Ndjili International Airport to Kinshasa city can cost you about $30-$50 , and a hotel room in Kinshasa costs about $50-$300 per night.

Find the travel options that work best for you at congoairways.com and caacongo.com. Ethiopians Airlines also operates flights from Addis Ababa to Kinshasa and Goma. This can be a best option but it is costly.

Visa and money

Check early enough, whether you need a visa to enter Rwanda if you choose the Rwanda option. On arrival in Rwanda, you will need to buy a transit visa, which costs about $30.00 US for three days. If you plan to travel a lot back and forth between Rwanda and the DRC you might want to enquire about multiple entry visa.

Check early enough, whether you need to purchase the DRC visa before you begin your travel. A one-month visa for DR Congo costs US$105 -$250. If you need to stay longer, it is possible to talk to authorities and extend the visa. Ask for a “Courtoisie visa”. In case of uncertainty, get in touch with us.

Costs, housing and infrastructure

Local transportation can cost you around $ 0.5-5 per tour, and a modest hotel room in Bukavu costs around $ 50-100 per night. In case of uncertainty, contact us to help you choose the best option for you.

Clean water and electricity are available at CERC, but occasional interruptions in both water and electricity supply are part of our life in Congo. We try to bridge the gaps, but you may need an extra portion of patience. The same is true for internet connection. It’s there, but it’s not very fast and there could be times, when it is completely down. Good and reliable infrastructure is not one of the positive qualities of the DRC or of Bukavu. In the contrary: even compared with other african countries, infrastructure in Bukavu is rather poor. Their are no phone books and no telephone information, only a few overland roads and very limited public transportation, no functioning postal system within the DR Congo … instead we have a good deal of corruption and poverty and other local and national maladies. You see, there are many reasons for you to come and help us improve our living conditions and get our country on its feet!

Money, money transfer and living costs

In the Democratic Republic of Congo we use Congolese Francs, if we want to bye some food or take a mototaxi. For anything which costs a bit more we use dollars. So bring a fair amount of dollars with you. But please make sure that you bring only new US dollar bills with you (i.e. bills issued in the last 3-4 years). In many places in DR Congo, people will not accept older US bills. And don’t think, that Congolese banks will change CFA or Swiss Francs or English Pounds. Banks here are not well-connected with the world out there. Besides dollars, you may be able to change south african Rands and Euros, but that’s pretty much it.

Money transfer through banks is equally difficult. If you need money sent to you, do it by Western Union. It’s fast and easy, and there is many branch in Bukavu. But be warned: The money has to be sent to Democratic Republic of Congo DRC and not just Bukavu, Congo.

To give you an idea aobut the costs of living, here are some prices of every day goods (costs August 2020):

  • 500 ml. bottle of mineral water $1 US
  • Loaf of sliced bread $0.60 US
  • 1 kg of rice: $0.70 US
  • 1 kg of beef meat: $5.00 US
  • 1 kg of fish: $4 US
  • 1 kg of sugar: $1.0 US

Health and health Care

Most of our team members drink the local water without problems. But to be on the safe side, you might want to drink bottled water during your stay here.

Different from other lakes in Africa, swimming in lake Kivu can create a health risk.

Make sure fresh fruits or vegetables are washed before you eat them.

Bring a sufficient supply of any medications that you take regularly with you. There are pharmacies and hospitals in Bukavu, but they may not have the products you are used to.

Malaria is endemic in our region. We therefore strongly recommend, that you talk to your doctor about malaria prevention and the medicine you might want to take. Bring a sufficient amount of it with you. In any case it is advisable to always sleep under a mosquito net.

A visit to a doctor in Bukavu costs $10.00 US.

We have a couple of good hospitals in Bukavu. More specialists are available in Kigali, but even there, you will not find the kind of services you might be used to.

Make sure, that your health insurance covers treatment abroad.

CERC cannot assume any responsability concerning your health during your stay in Bukavu nor can we contribute to any health related costs.

Safety and social tensions

Although Bukavu is generally a safe place, we do have safety issues in Bukavu and in the surrounding territories. We ask you therefore to inform a person of the administration every time you leave the CERC compound and that you tell this person, what you want to do and where you want to go. If locals advise you not to do certain things or not to go to certain areas, do take their warnings serious and double check with others!

The same caution is necessary, when you get in closer contact with an individual member of CERC or another local person. We do not want to stop such interactions, but we want to make sure, that you are not being abused for some hidden agenda of an individual or a local group. Remember, that as a foreigner you cannot always judge the risks involved in a given situation.

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