Abeka is one of a cluster of villages on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika in the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This huge lake is 673 kms long and 1,470 metres deep, filling the base of the western branch of the Great Rift Valley which stretches from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon to Mozambique in the south. There is some geothermal activity along the rift, notably the volcanos on the borders of Rwanda and North Kivu. Abeka lies on the narrow platform of mostly fertile land between the lake shore and the steep escarpment which forms the side of the rift.
The villages on the shore, with their thatched houses, merge into one another except where the side of the escarpment reaches the edge of the lake. On the top of the escarpment is the Haut Plateau, where the climate is much cooler, the land suitable for cattle rather than agriculture, and the population are Banyamulenge. These are Tutsi people who immigrated from Rwanda, some in the 19th century and earlier and some in the 1960s and more recently. They have consistently been denied citizenship rights in the DRC (Zaire) and there has long been conflict between them and the Bembe living along the lake.
The villages are linked with the small city of Uvira to the north by an unpaved road; with some of the bridges broken. Mining to the south has led to the road being somewhat improved, though suffering from the impact of heavy lorries. Public transport is rare. Since April, the water level of the lake has risen and pirogues - heavy plank built canoes - have been used to travel from Uvira to Abeka.
To give supporters of the Quaker Congo Partnership a picture of where their support is going, here is a short description of Abeka and its surroundings.