|Keith, Alex and Arsenio about to begin on at 1:45 |
pm on 31 August 2013.
On Saturday 31 August 2013, as severe electrical storms raged over the Connecticut River in southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, three CONGO SWIM supporters set off from Springfield Vermont to support the CONGO SWIM initiative with the goal of reaching Bellows Falls (VT), ten miles down the Connecticut River, in solidarity with the people of the war-torn Great Lakes of Africa.
The swim began with overcast skies, severe electrical storm and flash-flood warnings, and in Springfield VT there was intermittent lightning and a growing northerly headwind. Two miles into the swim the waves were getting bigger, with small rolling whitecaps impeding the lone swimmer Keith Harmon Snow and kayak-support Alex Viandes. By 5:00 pm -- after about five miles into the swim, serious thunderstorms had set in, and the northerly wind and waves were substantial.
This initiative was inspired by the CONGO SWIM initiative, where other people have been swimming or offering some action to support the people of Congo through Friends of the Congo's projects. Congo swim was founded by swimmer Keris Dahlkamp, who began his 22 mile swim of Lake Tahoe on August 24, 2013 and completed it the next day.
This swim was for all people of the Great Lakes of Africa countries: the peoples of Burundi, Congo, Rwanda and Uganda; and for the people of Ethiopia and Sudan. These are all places where Keith has worked and where he fell in love with the people and land. The US military and its allies are behind massive violence and plunder in these countries, and the western media continues to obscure reality and blame the victims, and this is true of progressive media too. This swim was also for the survivors of radiation poisoning due to the nuclear poisons complex.
Keith Harmon Snow began swimming from Springfield VT at 1:50 PM, with Alex Viandes paddling a kayak with him. Arsenio Ferreira, an Angolan national, began running from Springfield VT and he joined the team on the CT River and began swimming with Keith about four miles downstream from Springfield VT.
The swim took place well upstream from the criminal Vermont Yankee nuclear waste site (Vernon, VT), where radioactive poisons are ever being dumped into the Connecticut River.
The weather was dark and gloomy, with intermittent rain and thunderstorms.
By 6:00 PM one-foot to two-foot high whitecaps whipped up by the northerly headwind blowing across the long and wide stretches of the Connecticut rolled over the swimmers. Kayaker Alex Viandes paddled constantly to move forward -- else he was quickly blown and pushed backwards by wind and waves.
Keith and Arsenio prepare to set off from a secluded bay after Arsenio ran four miles of road from Springfield, VT to Charlestown, NH, where he joined Keith to swim the Connecticut River.
By 7:00 PM, the weather had turned dark and foreboding, with thunder and lighting. Feeling strong, healthy and successful after more than seven miles of swimming (Keith), running and swimming (Arsenio) and paddling (Alex), the team hit the shore at 7:30 PM. As Keith swam for more than five hours on Saturday he reflected on what the universe has in store for us all, and how to bring kindness to those who are not used to having kindness done for them.
"I've never swum more than about 2 miles at once," Keith says. "I could have made the ten miles, but the weather was less than ideal. I set out to express my solidarity with the victims and survivors of violence in Central Africa, and with the support of Arsenio and Alex I think we achieved this goal."
"Let's go back and do the rest," says Arsenio. "I'm ready. It's important to be in harmony with the environment."
Keith remains committed to raising awareness and holding people and corporations to account for the massive and unprecedented crimes that have been and continue to be committed in Central Africa. He has several writings in the works, and he continues to do interviews speaking out about the true roots of the violence: most recently he was interviewed by Voice of Russia about the Rwandan occupation of Congo (dictator Paul Kagame's so-called "rebel" forces "M23" in Congo). In October Keith will be speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, at a conference on genocide and war crimes in Central Africa.
Donations to support CONGO SWIM will be accepted until the end of September. Please support the CONGO SWIM initiative according to your means. You can do so through the Congo Swim web page ( http://www.congoswim.
You can also more directly support Keith's ongoing work for Central
Africa by donating through Paypal (use his email keith.harmon.snow@gmail. com and there are no PayPal fees).