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Morning in Mugunga camp
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Image by Julien Harneis
Mugunga is about 10km from Goma. The first people started setting up a makeshift camp in May after fighting in Ufumumba. By now the camp has grown into three sites and a fourth official camp will be opened in the coming days. The fighting in the last days has led to a large influx of new displaced. Registrations in the coming days will tell us how many there are but it should be well over fifteen thousand people and maybe into the twenties.
For a variety of reasons UNICEF and other humanitarian actors were slow to respond in Muganga. Since then we have assisted with distributions of non food items, construction of latrines, showers and the rehabilitation of the water distribution network. However new arrivals in the camp remain unassisted and our new projects for education, child friendly spaces, health and nutrition have yet to start.
To stay in touch with the people we work with I will be visiting the camp regularly to document their lives and develop a better understanding of their situation. On Saturday I went up early in the morning, met up with the committee for the displaced and asked if it would be alright to come to the camp from time to time. Fortunately they said yes and I spent the next couple of hours drifting through the camp as people got on with life, building huts, cooking, having breakfast.

Disease, explanation, solution
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Image by Earthworm
Diabetes has tripled since the 1980’s. Apparently it is the most common chronic disease in the U.S. today and many people are not diagnosed. So we can expect lots more to find themselves in the same boat as me, especially now that the medical establishment has lowered the criteria where they can call you diabetic. In 2000 they lowered the fasting blood sugar threshold number from 140 mg/dl to 126 mg/dl. They also created a new category of 110 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl as an interim period. This is because they discovered that damage on a micro-vascular level was already happening at those levels. Even so the standard blood test still doesn’t catch people who are glucose intolerant because it only tests fasting blood plasma rates. If you have hypoglycemic issues, you likely have fluctuating blood sugar issues after eating a meal high in starch or sugar and this will produce insulin issues just as diabetes does. That’s where that term sugar shock comes in. I’ve been hypoglycemic all my adult life and I’m only being flagged now.

The book The Diabetes Solution was my go to book for the basics about handling this condition and it was a very good science based introduction, though it is more focused on people who are already using insulin. I also wanted to know more about the science behind insulin and why our nutrition assumptions were so ass backward. In Good Calories, Bad Calories, everything became clear and the whole controversy around nutrition fell into place too. Diet is possibly the most contentious subject I’ve stumbled upon. It was also through this book that I realized that I was going to have to give up trying to save the planet from being trashed by livestock, by eating low on the food chain, as Frances Moore Lappe so famously suggested in Diet For A Small Planet. And then there are those who want to serve their animal loving ideals, but all those fake meats and alternative FrankenSoy foods are just plain dishonest because they are misleading and add another layer of calculations to find out how much carbs you are actually eating. And if you are going to promote a plant based diet it will likely be high in carbs—otherwise it will be too low in protein. Plus current book I am reading says those soy derivatives mess with your thyroid. There are still vegetarian dishes I will cook, but I will have to modify the starch intake. I did find out that I can offset a meal high in carbs and hitting a glucose reading of 132 mg/dl, with exercise which will bring it down to 84 mg/dl. It doesn’t have to be super strenuous, yoga will do, but it has to go on for a while. Ninety minutes is good. An hour will probably work.

I was lucky to have arrived at this point when the Paleo diet was in full swing because it gave me The Primal Blueprint Cookbook which is not only helping me with the whole pre-diabetes dilemma of what to eat, but has recipes that are much easier to cook and take less time than my vegetarian dishes. It is also saving my relationship because every dish I’ve made from it has been delicious. Catherine wants to be vegetarian again, but she is relenting because her doctor’s want her protein intake to be quite high. I’ve been playing it safe by cooking only chicken dishes, bacon for bacon bits and vegetables, but soon I will venture into the beef ones. More on the Primal Blueprint here. He’s not as out there as the wild game/no cultivated foods Paleo people so is easier to live with.

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