Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight | Perspective

A voyage along Congo’s rivers in search of a virus

By MaryAnne Golon

January 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Villagers gather along the Motaba River in the Dongou region of the Congo Republic as a team of international scientists and local experts motor past. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Reflections from the sky in the Ubangi River in Impfondo. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)

A group of international scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered with local experts in the Congo Republic to try to discover the origin of the monkey pox virus after several outbreaks of the disease claimed lives last year. The Washington Post sent reporter Lena Sun and photographer Melina Mara with the virus hunters to document their search.

“As we traveled in dugouts and small boats up the Ubangi River that twisted into the Motaba, we passed villages full of curious souls wondering who and what we were,” Mara said. “We were like the circus coming to town. Boats full of scientists and equipment on a search to solve a mystery — how does an illness like monkey pox spread? The people we encountered up the river did not know our mission. Their faces were full of different questions. They called to us over and over again, but we couldn’t stop. We were chasing our own questions.” This is a selection of scenes Mara photographed as the team traveled along the Congolese rivers.

A young boy swims and plays in the Ubangi River near Impfondo. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
A village on the Motaba River in the Dongou region. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Women and boats along the banks of the Motaba River. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Village residents travel by boat along the Motaba River. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
A captain and his boat along the Motaba River. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Youngsters play in the Ubangi River. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
A woman and child sell goods from a boat along the Motaba River. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Along the Motaba River. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)

MaryAnne Golon is the Director of Photography at The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2012, MaryAnne was the director of photography at Time Magazine and a senior photography editor there for more than 20 years. She graduated with honors from The University of Florida with a B.S. in Journalism.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

In Sight | Perspective

A voyage along Congo’s rivers in search of a virus

By MaryAnne Golon

January 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Villagers gather along the Motaba River in the Dongou region of the Congo Republic as a team of international scientists and local experts motor past. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Reflections from the sky in the Ubangi River in Impfondo. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)

A group of international scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered with local experts in the Congo Republic to try to discover the origin of the monkey pox virus after several outbreaks of the disease claimed lives last year. The Washington Post sent reporter Lena Sun and photographer Melina Mara with the virus hunters to document their search.

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Already a subscriber?