You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

A primary goal of our goat and chicken projects is to provide a means of providing sustainable and growing wealth. Beneficiaries initially receive a goat or chicken in exchange for a commitment to return a replacement animal back to local leaders after the initial animals have reproduced. As the animals reproduce, new wealth is created for the initial owners and then for the subsequent beneficiary owners. The program continually expands as new beneficiaries receive an animal. Local leaders can determine the initial distribution based on need, on perceived levels of responsibility or any criteria they choose.

An important aspect to this program is that the animal represent available wealth or a store of value to their owner. Many Congolese, most Congolese in rural areas, don’t have bank accounts. Animals can replace a bank account.

Mama Dusabe with her baby goats in Rutshuru

One of our beneficiaries of the Rutshuru area goat project was the widowed Mama Dusabe. Her goat had just provided her with two baby goats. Mama Dusabe told James Kataliko that at that time her child had become seriously ill, so she sold her first goat and was able to pay the bills for the medical care of her child.

This would not have been possible without having a store of value by owning a goat.

In Congo and the poorest areas of the world, it can be virtually impossible to save money because the needs in the family or of neighbours are so great. If you have money, you are expected to help. Maintaining your wealth in the form of livestock is an ancient and enduring method of maintaining a store of value that can be accessed in a pressing time of need.

Mount Nyiragongo has erupted and threatens Goma for the first time since 2002 when lava flows killed hundreds and destroyed the airport.

So far, lava has primarily flowed east towards Rwanda but flows have also destroyed some suburb areas of Goma to the south of the volcano. Thousands have needed to flee and many areas have been destroyed. The main road north to Ruthshuru, home of our recent goat project, has been cut off. Thankfully, the flows have sparred downtown Goma and the most densely populated parts of this area of two million people, but the danger is not yet over.

We had planned to visit Goma in 2011, but changed our plans at the last minute. This old post explains why Goma has been called the World’s Most Dangerous City. https://bensincongo.com/2011/11/14/weve-been-re-routed/

Based on the success of earlier goat projects, James Kataliko has helped to organize a new project in Rutshuru which is only 7 km from the Ugandan border. As before, ten recipients received a female goat (a nanny) with a promise to return a baby goat (kid) in the future. Billy goats are maintained by the village and loaned out. In the future, local leaders will distribute the kids received to new recipients and the cycle will continue. This a self-sustaining investment designed to create enduring wealth in a practical form.

For this project, James was able to identify an area where a group of women and widows were identified to be the initial recipients.

One recipient of a nanny goat is Claudine, now 15 years old. When 13 she had been raped by rebels. Our hope is that this project will help people like her to get established. The women receiving goats are said to be elated and very hopeful with this project.

Delivery of the goats wasn’t without issues. James arranged to have a minivan transport the goats from nearby Kiwanja to Rutshuru, but the roads had many barricades established by Congolese soldiers due to the history of trouble in the area. James had to repeatedly talk his way through the requests for money.

If true, this is significant.

British doctors at Oxford University are claiming their Burkina Faso based clinical trials for a malaria vaccine achieved 77% efficacy. It was a relatively small trial with 450 participants. There will now be a follow on trial of 4,800 participants.

400,000 people die each year from Malaria. There were an estimated 229 million cases worldwide in 2019.

To access the clinical trial paper: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3830681

We have been battling malaria for some time, so it can be defeated. Drugs today can be effective but cost is an issue for the world’s poorest. We have to be willing to fund a vaccine to make it effective. It is interesting how widespread malaria was a century again, reaching cities not associated with malaria such as Toronto, Stockholm and Moscow based on this map.

Dorcas has recently welcomed these two 4 year old boys into the orphanage. Their parents were killed in the ongoing violence that is gripping the Butembo and Beni area. When I asked Dorcas about their names, I was told that no one knows. The boys have been traumatized and so far unable to speak. It is horrific to think about what they may have witnessed.

In addition to Islamist ADF rebels acting without humanity, now there has been extended violence fostered by young men angry about the ineffectiveness of the UN / MONUSCO. They are demanding that MONUSCO leave but there has been no indication of that happening anytime soon.

In my last post, I rhetorically asked how much more could the people take. The response was clear. Very little. Civilians have now responded by effectively shutting down all activity in both Beni and Butembo.

https://www.africanews.com/2021/04/08/strike-over-civilian-massacres-brings-dr-congo-s-east-to-a-halt/

A key demand of the protesters is the expulsion of UN (MONUSCO) personnel from Congo due to their utter ineffectiveness. People have complained that the soldiers won’t go 50 meters from their bases. This blog has long noted the disrepute the Congolese hold for the UN, including here and here and here.

Scenes such as the following video are commonplace now. My assumption is that the the Islamist ADF are the perpetrators of this slaughter and the Congo army is there just for the clean up while the crowd chants their displeasure in the background. I continue to use Rumble as YouTube would not permit the uploading of this video.

Gunshots presumably fired in the air by the army were used to clear the streets in Beni in this video:

The magnitude of the civilian uprising in Butembo can be seen in this video:

Protesters in Butembo want to see MONUSCO gone!

The violence continues in eastern Congo with a growing savagery. Another dozen people were killed today, on top of dozens last week. Decapitation and the mutilation of innocents has been commonplace.

The region from Oicha in the north down to Butembo in the south was recently brought to a virtual standstill as citizens protested the unending violence. People have had enough and can take little more. Angry youths placed barricades across some streets, which were later removed by police. Shops were closed, schools failed to open and streets were deserted as people protested.

There are still 18,000 UN “peacekeepers” in Congo, but people question what they are doing. According to the Economist, “All helmet and no mettle”. That would be a polite description related to their failure to control the violence.

There had been a call for more African peacekeepers, but that hasn’t transpired. The UN mission continues to be a job creation technique for developing world soldiers who don’t want to be there.

The Congo army has long shown itself to be incapable of dealing with the terrorists. The UN is better equipped but lacks the motivation to take any risks. There is very little reason for hope at the moment.

I have received horrific photos of death and mutilation, a hallmark of the Islamist terrorists. I debate with myself the wisdom of posting them as the regular media would never display them for valid reasons. I think they need to be shown. This isn’t a children’s blog. These photos have been sent to me because Congolese want these pictures shown. They want the world to understand the ongoing terror in their lives. And I assure you that I haven’t picked the worst pictures.

I truly admire entrepreneurs in Congo. It has to be tough! Most of the world takes so many things for granted. Life in eastern Congo simply isn’t quite so easy. The lack of physical security, electricity, running water, banking are only a few examples of challenges facing entrepreneurs (and everyone else too!)

Masika Tsongo Denise has been running Savon Gloria, a soap manufacturing and distribution business for years. She employs a lot of people. For Congo to lift itself up and not be dependent on foreign aid, this is the kind of business that needs to succeed. Congo needs to be self sufficient where ever practical to avoid the need to import such items. Manufacturing commonly used items needed by everyone makes a lot of sense.

While there are many compassionate needs that we respond to, at BensInCongo where possible we want to support ventures that allow local Congolese to provide for themselves. The sewing project at the school for orphans is providing revenue from their sewing in addition to provide training. The chicken, duck and goat projects naturally replicate wealth in the form of more chicken, ducks and goats. Our support for the entrepreneurs in the Butembo market is directly funding the orphan Dieula. Some projects haven’t been as successful as others, but no one said being an entrepreneur was easy.

Masika wanted to expand her business and James Kataliko was able to connect us. Seeing that her goals and business were aligned with us, we reached an agreement on a multi-year microloan. With the proceeds of the loan, Masika purchased a new generator plus some additional operational items. The extruded soap shown below will go through wire saws to properly size them for sale in the market. You can see the new generator being pressed into use in the video below.

Back in 2016, we highlighted a four year girl with no arms and only one leg. We directed some funds to her back then and James Kataliko has provided some further funds since then. https://bensincongo.com/2016/10/01/samiela/

Through the good work of Heal Africa, Samiela has been provided with a prosthesis to enable her to walk. A shout out to Dr. Kasereka “Jo” Lusi, an orthopedic surgeon who travelled from Goma to Butembo and to the Catholic hospital in Butembo who attended to Samiela. Dr Lusi was a co-founder of Heal Africa (Health, Education, Action and Leadership) which grew to be the largest teaching hospital in Goma.

The following video from 2016 demonstrates her incredible spunk as a four year old.

Dr Jo Lusi of Heal Africa

It has been a year since our daughter Michelle left Beijing due to COVID-19, only to be locked down in our Canadian home on her arrival here. This winter, Michelle picked up where she left off last year by shovelling the snow from the driveway of our neighbour Gwen. (Yes, husband Mike sometimes helped too.) We had struck a deal last year with Gwen that she would pay us for the shovelling while we would forward the funds to Congo. https://bensincongo.com/2020/03/07/snow-shovelling-for-kalondo/

Recently, Saasita told us about a woman named Kahindo Vusuvuseka Marguerite who was in hospital at Musienene just south of Butembo. Marguerite is a native of Kalondo. She was widowed and was still traumatized after the recent death of her husband. Now she was getting ready to deliver her fourth child, knowing that her prospects as a widow in Congo were bleak. Saasita was there to help out.

We suggested that a good use of the funds being supplied by Gwen for snow shovelling would be to support Marguerite. Gwen agreed, Saasita agreed and it was quickly arranged to send USD $200 to Saasita for delivery to Marguerite.

Marguerite gave birth to a healthy baby girl and has decided to name the baby Gwen in honour of her benefactress. Thank-you Michelle and Gwen for making this happen!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 61 other followers

Archives

Prior Posts