The Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been known to be unsafe. There have been numerous wars, revolts and there is often local fighting. The statistics for eastern DRC are staggering with an incidence of rape and murder unseen in most of the world.
When I arrived, I was told that it is only safe to walk during the day and in areas with abundant foot traffic. The most strict rule is absolutely no walking anywhere after sunset. After dark the streets have been known to be dangerous with random acts of violence. Surprisingly, when we entered a local restaurant, Le Chalet, we were greeted by a sign saying no assault rifles. I guess you must check your AK-47 at the door.
I have not experienced any hint of violence towards me yet. On my walking expeditions down the main road I have encountered young children smiling, laughing and asking to hold my hand or for a hug. Local men and soldiers have stopped to say “hello” or ask about my life. When we left Le Chalet around 9PM in a vehicle, we drove past a group of young women with their children walking home. So far, the DRC has been a very friendly and safe place to work.