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Hope in the Congo
Dried peas, Bag 43, Congo
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April 4, 2008

THE JOURNAL takes viewers on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo to follow aid workers and local relief efforts that are bringing hope to a forgotten land. "The aid agencies are almost substituting for a social welfare system that hasn't operated in these areas for decades," says Dominic MacSorley, Emergency Director for Concern Worldwide, an international aid organization.

Concern is one of only two aid organizations working in some remote regions of the DCR. The other, Doctors Without Borders entitled its March 12, 2008 field report: "Violence spikes and civilians suffer." It is one more harsh report from a country which has suffered through a devastating history — recent and remote.

>Learn more about the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Filmmaker David Murdock followed the journey of one sack of dried peas— sack 43 — on a three-day journey by bicycle into the interior.

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Update from Concern's Dominic MacSorley

  • Despite logistical constraints, Concern completed the food and seed distributions by late November 2007. In the end 6,051 households (25,369 people) were served in time for the planting season.

  • Follow up surveys showed that thanks to the food ration (transported by the bike guys!) people planted more seeds this year compared to last - the average area cultivated grew from 0.2ha in 2006 to 0.5ha in 2007/08.

  • Improved variety manioc was also distributed to each of the 24 villages in November. This grows faster than the local variety (within one year as opposed to 2-3 years) so it will help the food security situation. Cuttings for multiplication will be distributed next November.

  • The roads situation has actually improved this year compared to last due to Concern's rehabilitation work. To date 45km and 54 small bridges have been rehabilitated and over 3,600 people (550 women) have worked on the roads and bridges so we have generated money for the local economy as well as opening up access. Thanks to this work, the trip from Dubié – Shamwana has been taking around 8 hours in the rainy season this year, compared to 2 days last year.

  • Markets are also opening up with more available locally.

  • We are now starting our water and sanitation program, drilling boreholes in 17 villages , distributing mosquito nets, jerrycans and soap, along with messages on good hygiene practices such as hand washing etc. This should help reduce the prevalence of cholera in the target area – like the outbreak that occurred when the report was filmed.
According to our staff in Shamwana, Tutu, is as we speak, off delivering another load of supplies, his dreams of being more than a transporter are not yet realized.

>Dominic MacSorley will be answering viewer questions on our Blog.

>Read our 2002 interview with Dominic MacSorley and watch the story of Concern in Afghanistan, "After the War."

Published on April 4, 2008.

Related Media:
Afghan child, Photo by Siobhan LynamNOW WITH BILL MOYERS: After the War
In 2002, NOW WITH BILL MOYERS followed Dominic MacSorley and Concern Worldwide as they aided refugees in Afghanistan. Watch the full program online.


LumoPOV: LUMO
Lumo Sinai was just over 20 when marauding soldiers attacked her in the eastern Congo. A fistula, a medical condition common among victims of violent rape, rendered Lumo incontinent and threatens her ability to bear children. Rejected by her fiancé and cast aside by her family, she awaits reconstructive surgery.

The Greatest SilenceTHE GREATEST SILENCE: RAPE IN THE CONGO
Today, in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, rape is taking place on a scale that is almost unimaginable. In the last ten years, hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped - but their suffering goes unacknowledged. Instead, they are invisible, shamed and mute. Winner of a Special Jury Prize (Documentary) at this year's Sundance Film Festival, THE GREATEST SILENCE: RAPE IN THE CONGO premieres Tuesday, April 8 at 10pm ET/PT.
References and Reading:
Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organisation dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries.

Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in nearly 60 countries. MSF's Congo division published a special online report on March 12, 2008, "Violence spikes and civilians suffer." Their site contains frequent field reports.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

CONNECT FOR CONGO: WORKING FOR HOPE AND PEACE IN THE DRC
On March 30-31, 2008 the Congo Global Action Coalition in cooperation with the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum held a conference to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Review the conference proceedings online.

The Friends of the Congo (FOTC)
The Friends of the Congo (FOTC) is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. The FOTC was established at the behest of Congolese human rights and grassroots institutions in 2004, to work together to bring about peaceful and lasting change in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire.

Guardian Special Report: Congo
The Guardian Unlimited presents an interactive timeline tracing the history of Congo as well as current articles on elections, child soldiers, militias and more. The site also links to archived articles and letters from readers.

International Crisis Group
This nongovernmental organization works worldwide to prevent and resolve conflict. The site presents an overview of the Crisis Group's mission, briefings on Congo and monthly reports on conflict developments in the country since September 2003.

International Rescue Committee
The IRC is a global network of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, community leaders, activists, and volunteers. Their recent survey has found that 5,400,000 people have died from war-related causes in Congo since 1998. Their Web site has news and multimedia from the field in Congo and other areas they serve.

MONUC -- U.N. Mission in DR Congo
The peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations Security Council in Congo operates on a budget of more than $1 billion. The largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping mission, MONUC is headquarted in Congo's capital of Kinshasa. The site contains press releases, photos and video about the mission.

Democratic Republic of Congo News

Guardian Special Report: Congo
The Guardian Unlimited presents an interactive timeline tracing the history of Congo as well as current articles on elections, child soldiers, militias and more. The site also links to archived articles and letters from readers.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Breaking World News: The Congo
Check here for the complete collection of the TIMES' Congo reporting.

"Lawlessness in Eastern Congo"
The Council on Foreign Relations, Stephanie Hanson, December 6, 2007. "Rampant sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo now ranks as the worst in the world. Authorities report twenty-seven thousand sexual assaults in the eastern Congo province of South Kivu in 2006." The Council on Foreign Relations maintains a hub site for DCR news and analysis.

"Congo: A humanitarian disaster unfolds"
THE ECONOMIST, November, 15th 2007. "One year after the Congolese elections, civilians flee renewed fighting in the east."

Also This Week:

HOPE IN THE CONGO
THE JOURNAL takes viewers on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo to follow aid workers and local relief efforts that are bringing hope to a forgotten land. "The aid agencies are almost substituting for a social welfare system that hasn't operated in these areas for decades," says Dominic MacSorley, Emergency Director for Concern Worldwide, an international aid organization.

> ASK DOMINIC MACSORLEY
Dominic MacSorley answers your questions on our blog.

CONGO: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF DARKNESS
View a slideshow of images from The Democratic Republic of Congo by noted photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale. Also, delve into the history of the troubled land — a country almost one-fourth the size of the US.

DAVID BECKMANN, BREAD FOR THE WORLD
Bill Moyers talks with the president of Bread for the World about the challenges of combatting hunger. Plus, online resources for aiding the hungry.

CONCERN IN AFGHANISTAN
In 2002, NOW WITH BILL MOYERS followed Dominic MacSorley and Concern Worldwide as they aided refugees in Afghanistan. Watch the full program online.

TALK BACK: THE MOYERS BLOG
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