BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo—At first glance, there is nothing out of the ordinary about life in Beni, a cosmopolitan trading town on Congo’s northeastern border with Uganda.
On a typical Sunday, roller skaters train for their next competition on the town’s paved main road, studiously avoiding the potholes and errant cows. Off the avenue, the side streets of packed yellow dirt are dotted with people going about their daily business. At night, clubs serve locally brewed beer, while revelers dance in the dotted pink light of a spinning disco ball.
Before anyone can enter the club, however, they must wash their hands with chlorinated water. And, even then, people don’t shake each other’s hands.