In a country that has been ravaged by violence and fear, the spirit of the people of the Congo remains miraculously unbroken. With trepidation, I began preparations for my trip to the DR Congo. It’s reputation was daunting….the rape capital of the world much of which is held prisoner by the chains of satanic cults and violence. Travel warnings evoked fear in this rookie wanderer as I packed my compression stockings and my journal. I wanted to see the truth behind this dark mask. Make no mistake, there are dark corners there that would inspire fear in the strongest of us. I felt a darkness I have never known and was visibly shaken as disapproving locals hurled curses at me. But from behind that dark mask, the truth of this place started to peek through. Beautiful people and brightly patterned headdresses dotted the landscape and became part of the rich tapestry of this place. The spirit of the people of the Congo is palpable and bright. Instead of flashy cars and designer shoes, tattered but beautifully tailored dresses and soulful smiles complete the ensemble as they welcomed us with open arms. The image above is my favorite of the trip. It inspires me. I painted this boy with warrior paint just minutes before I captured this image. I can feel the energy....maybe just a flashback of the emotion I was feeling at the time. Either way, it reminds me how full of spirit and joy these boys were in spite of such humble beginnings. My only hope is that we left this place better than we found it.