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VOICES FROM CONGO: "What pain! We do not know where we are going. What is this war?"

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Regular readers of OpEdNews will recognize that keith harmon snow ( and I have been trying our mightiest to shine the light of truth into dark corners of exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sometimes we feel uplifted, and sometimes there is despair, but an email came in one day that gave us an idea that just might open a window into the lives of ordinary Congolese. These men and women, unlike conservation and other misery industry organizations, do not have massive Public Relations budgets or a press officer, like the one who works with the so-called “rangers” of WildLife Direct, who writes their “blogs” for them. They do not have private planes, funded by the Frankfurt Zoological Society, to fly them over the conflict zones so that they can meet with mainstream media.

These brave Congolese men and women will walk a day through a conflict zone to find a computer with internet access in order to give us a first-hand report or just to say hello. It costs money they cannot afford to spare and presents risks none of us would like to face. Imagine feeling that you could be killed because of an email you sent that tips investigators that USAID “fact-finders” did not go to the site that Department of Justice Investigators sent them to, but instead went to a restaurant 100 km away from the fraudulent program that is sucking up your tax dollars.

I had been attaching a quote from Ghandi to my emails, which reflects my growing cynicism: “everything you do will be meaningless, but you must do it.”

My good friend, Coleen Rowley, sent me a note which prompted me to rethink my own despair and take another look at what “meaningless” implies.

“Not to disagree with Gandhi but "meaningless" is kind of loaded. "Paradoxical commandments of leadership" might be better way of saying it. Keep up all your “meaningless” work anyway! Coleen R.”

Please read with an open heart what ordinary citizens of Congo are telling you, and try to understand the paradox which is Africa, and how it defies all intuition.

Obviously, we cannot use real names, but these are real people, and from time to time, we will send out a VOICE FROM CONGO. Listen to what they have to say. It will break your heart and perhaps motivate you to support freedom and reparation for the Congolese.


I just discovered your writings on the net. I am just thanking you. At least somebody is feeling with us Congolese. May God Bless you. We have no hope from this world, but we do have HOPE in God.

I live with the rest of my family in [DELETED]. We are scattered here, some in refugee camps, and some in [DELETED] living on our own in the city. We are excluded from our society, but we are thankful to you from our hearts (yesterday I took a hard copy of your work home to my wife and others to read) for what you are doing for our country and all other forgotten people on the planet. Our hearts and prayers go to you. This is our support to you. –“Nord Kivu”

From this short email, an idea was born, that Rob Kall and OpEd News supports.

We wrote back to “Nord Kivu” and asked him to give us an idea of what his daily life is like so that we might share it with you. Here is his story, in his own words:

“I was born the 9th of April 1966 from a big family of 10 children. My Mother is still alive. My father died in year 2000 by natural death. I grew up a happy child, but at the age of 4 years old, I got a very strong fever, which at the end it was discovered that I had polio, which affected my left leg.

“Thank God my family was very supportive to me. Though I was most of the time discouraged by society, which, in rural areas is less supportive to people with disability. I remember I could walk to school, followed by a group of kids chanting after me, miming the way I walk. By the help of my mum especially, I managed to complete my primary school.

“The same negative attitudes, went on to my secondary level of studies. To make it worse, even one of my teachers had told me clearly, that my father should think of taking me to vocational school where I should learn fixing shoes … not taking courses with normal students. It distracts others, he said. I kept strong with the help of my family to never give up. I obtained my diploma in Education in year 1987 and soon after that I started to work. Since we were many, my father could not afford to take me to the University level. Again thank God, I did not miss a high level studies forever, on my own I got my degree at [DELETED].

“In 1995 I married. We have four children and my niece whose parents could not make it to the border to escape.

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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