I Am Congo: Stories of Hope



jbdodane, via Flickr

What do you think about when you hear about the Congo? Ryan Geertsma and Liz Waid look at a film series that shows a different side of DR Congo.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The town of Goma is in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is in the eastern part of the country. This area struggles with conflict. Rebel soldiers hide in the forests. They kidnap people on the roads. Fighting destroys homes and villages. There is very little food.

Voice 2 

Many people know this picture of the DR Congo. But today, we will look at a different picture. It is a bright and warm day in Goma. There is a raised performance stage in the middle of town. On this stage, young people sing and dance. People gather and watch them. The young performers are having fun. They are freely expressing their ideas. Today, these young artists are using their skills to influence the way people think.

Voice 1 

Petna Ndaliko organized this performance. He is an artist. Ndaliko encourages young people to create art. He believes art can share ideas and build peace. His story is part of a series of short films called I Am Congo. Today’s Spotlight is on the I Am Congo film series.

Voice 2 

The DR Congo is in central Africa. Since 1996, DR Congo has experienced two major civil wars. The second civil war officially ended in July 2003. But many groups have continued to rebel against the government - particularly in the east. Over the past 15 years, 5 million people have died either from violence or from lack of food during war.

Voice 1 

But for the people who live in the DR Congo, life is much more than war. And the not for profit organization, The Enough Project, wanted to world to know this. So The Enough Project decided to create a series of 5 short films about life in the DR Congo. These films are each 3 to 5 minutes long. Each film concentrates on one person’s story. And each person’s story shares a value that is important in the DR Congo - values like art, community building, justice, care for the environment and working for human rights and education. The Enough Project hopes that when people outside of the DR Congo watch these films, they see the hope and faith of the people.

Voice 2 

The first I Am Congo film is about art. The film concentrates on Petna Ndaliko - the artist that organized the youth performance we talked about at the beginning of this program. Ndaliko believes art brings people together. He believes that when people understand each other, they can work together. So Ndaliko teaches young people to express themselves through performance and film. The young artists may not all agree.  But through art, they can express their beliefs without fighting.  And these young people can begin to understand the differences between them.

Voice 1 

The second film is about community building. Amani Matabaro is a community organizer. In the late 1990’s, rebels killed his mother and father. He struggled with their deaths. He was not sure what to do. But then, he decided that he needed to help his community.

Voice 2 

Matabaro’s community was unsafe for women and children. They did not have safe places for children to study or safe places for women to work. So, he decided to work for change. One thing Matabaro did was start a market. This “peace market” is a place for women in the community to sell the things they make. Now, they do not have to walk a long way to sell things in a different city. This helps women stay safe. Matabaro believes that the market gives people hope for a peaceful future. He has faith that people will feel good and happy in the DR Congo again.

Voice 1 

The third film is about justice. Denise Siwatula is a human rights attorney. She provides legal services for victims of sexual violence. In the DR Congo, some rebel forces have used sexual violence as a weapon of war.  So many women are victims of sexual violence. It is often very difficult to catch the people who sexually attack women. But that does not stop Siwatula.  She works to achieve justice for victims - even though it is not easy. In the I Am Congo film, she explains:

Voice 3 

“If we just sat with crossed arms and did nothing, what would happen then? Even if we do face some difficulties, we hold on to the hope that… one day, maybe, this situation will improve.”

Voice 1 

The fourth film is about conservation or caring for the environment. This is what Dominique Bikaba works for. He is a conservationist. He works to keep the natural environment healthy - for animals and the local people. War often destroys large parts of the natural forests. This makes it difficult for the people and animals.  They do not have the resources they need.

Voice 2 

So Bikaba started a large program to grow more trees in the villages. Local people can use these village trees for building and cooking. And this leaves more natural forest for animals to live in.

Voice 1 

The last film is about human rights and education. This is where Fidel Bafilemba is important. Bafilemba is an activist.  He works to improve human rights and education for people in the DR Congo. However, Bafilemba was not always a peaceful activist. He was once a rebel fighter. But he recognized that there was a better way to achieve change. That way is using knowledge.

Voice 2 

One thing Bafilemba decided to do was start a school. This school aims to teach people to think about their world. Bafilemba believes that asking questions is necessary.  But he says this is a new idea for many people in DR Congo. For many years, authorities in DR Congo have trained the people not to ask questions. In the film, he says,

Voice 4 

“The Congolese have never been taught to question anything. If you questioned what leaders said… you were taken to prison! That was crime. So we are going to try to change that process. There is disorder in this country. But there is also hope. Hope for a better future. A hope for educated people.”

Voice 1 

Robert Padavick is the director of the I Am Congo films. He told Ebony news,

Voice 5

“We hope the films help people remember that eastern Congo is not just home to the deadliest war in the world. That is not the whole story. It is a complex place, where natural beauty meets with decay and humanity lives among war.”

Voice 1 

The writer and producer of this program was Dianna Anderson. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “I Am Congo: Stories of Hope.”

Voice 2

You can also leave your comments on our website. And find us on Facebook. Just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What do people in the world know about your country? Do you think they have an accurate view of your country?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
paulo86nirisco
said on June 06, 2013

very good I loved this program thank you

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on June 06, 2013

Hi all
I think the hope is in each person that have faith in God.

Thanks Spotlight

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QuangTrang
said on August 11, 2014

I like the sentence was said from Denise Siwatula “If we just sat with crossed arms and did nothing, what would happen then? Even if we do face some difficulties, we hold on to the hope that…one day, maybe, this situation will improve.” Words are words only, word and act are difficult. So I am proud all people who do the I Am Congo films. Reading their stories they encourage me. Thanks Spotlight.

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kenhieuloilam
said on August 14, 2014

In the life not good things need to be pushed away. We do all things we can to push not good things away. Our crime loses us our dignity. We can not escape our crime. We develop all the life’s sides. A beautiful good world is a place where everyone lives, is respected and loved. If we live we will live our lives for beautiful good things. If we die we will die for beautiful good things. Difficulties and sufferings are big. Difficulties and sufferings pass. Beautiful good things exist. We find ourselves when we live our lives for beautiful good things.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on August 17, 2014

War and rebel are crime of human. Citizens are miserable, natural is destroyed and economy can not develop. It is so awesome when this situation Congo have positive persons who make their communities combine together and fight for better life.

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oleksandrk
said on October 08, 2014

A good program. Thanks.

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honganh.hoang11
said on October 19, 2015

A great website! Thanks for your contribution to the world, and especially for the English learners.

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blackx
said on December 14, 2015

perfect, thanks a lot