Jason Lewis Berry serves in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.
My name is Jason Lewis Berry. I’m with the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization in the Planning Division. I deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and that was in November of 2008. This was a scoping mission to see how S/CRS might be able to support Embassy Kinshasa’s efforts to bring stability in Eastern Congo. During this deployment, we met with a wide range of stakeholders, both U.S. Government, international community, and Congolese Government officials, as well as NGOs, and tried to get a better picture of what exactly S/CRS can bring to the table to assist in the very complex issues in Congo.
The conditions in Congo – they vary. We certainly spent some time in Kinshasa in the capital. And in that place, we were working at the Embassy and staying in a hotel. But in Eastern Congo, we were based in Goma. That’s a much less stable area. We still stayed at a hotel, but the security conditions were much different.
DRC is an interesting place. It’s a place I had worked before, prior to this deployment. The – it’s always nice to see a connection to what you’re trying to help in the long run. So while most of our work on this particular mission involved talking with the experts in the field from the different agencies and the different international partners, we were also able to go to, for example, IDP camps and see how this instability is affecting people on the ground and get a better idea of what their needs were and how we might be able to help in the strategic picture.
This was a useful deployment in that we came back with a better idea of what the U.S. Government is trying to do in DRC and what international partners are trying to do and how we can work together. And I think that’s a key thing for future deployments and something that I’d be happy to do again in the future. We are still looking at what kind of additional expertise S/CRS and its interagency partners would be able to provide to Embassy Kinshasa.