27 November 2012

Congo project

Crystal Waddell and Lisa Sato of Reach Architecture Studios
meeting with women in Nyalebbe DRC, August 2012
I spent some time this week helping Vincent Ulargiw of the Nyalebbe Community Development Alliance in the eastern DR Congo, editing a film - subtitles to come [link] - and making a film from photos - voiceover to be added in Toronto[link] -  to be used at a Toronto fundraiser by Reach Architecture Associates for their project helping establish a technical college for the CDA.

I have worked on some projects with CDA and Vince since 2007. I have seen all the working papers and planning information associated with the REACH-CDA project. There is no communication directly with Nyalebbe; Vince lives over the border in Nebbi, Uganda and has to travel by motorbike to Nyalebbe, while also trying to keep his fledgling IT business going in Nebbi— not easy with constant mains power failure and generator problems  See this website which Vince and I have to find time to update.: the technical college project is #1 item now.

You can donate to the Reach-CDA project here. I have made a donation and will look to doing more as the project develops. I am quite sure of the integrity of those involved.

It is difficult to mobilise and achieve positive attitudes and energy in a community which like Nyalebbe is recovering from war. Every effort is being made. In my view the importance of this project is the extent to which it is based in the community, it uses local materials, local management and timelines agreed between the two sides to meet obligations. It is designed to build local confidence. This is different from aid projects which may dump their own priorities on local communities. See this quote from Mama Mado, chair of the CDA at a local meeting some time ago:

Most people believe that NGOs are supposed to distribute free things to the community as was the case with some international NGOs who first operated in our area when we had just returned after the war. I urge everyone in the community to focus on the fight against poverty but not materials gains. Poverty is not only lack of material wealth and money but also ignorance. Ignorance is actually the biggest problem that people in our community face and is the reason why people are poor.
I urge everyone to embrace opportunities such as the training that CDA is going to offer and other development projects that will come by. Let us break the vicious circle of poverty that ties most of us down.
Mama Mado Beriu, Chairperson, Nyalebbe CDA,