GOMA, Congo -- Saturday morning in Goma, the lakeside capital of eastern Congo is as busy as any other day of the week, despite tensions caused by recent fighting between M23 rebels and government forces north of the city.
Hundreds of taxi-motorcycles weave through the packed streets of the city on the Rwanda border, as newly arrived Kenyan soldiers make their way to their compound on the outskirts of the city.
And on the N2 highway leading north out of town, the many colorful storefronts of hair salons hide interiors full of customers, mostly women who are ready to spend their entire day getting the perfect hairstyles, butterfly or tribal braids, even curly hair twists.
If most of the work is performed by women, it seems that all the salons, are owned by men, some as young as 20 years old.
At a time of tension and economic uncertainty, the bold names and brightly colored storefronts bring a sense of normalcy to residents who have contended with conflict and natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions for decades.
The Salon Mixte, the Clinique de Beaute, the Just Love salon and the Salon King are all open for business and here to stay.