Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Child Soldiers!


GAHH! I completely forgot about this post..................summer is going to end soon and I don't want that!

Ok, I already posted about Child Soldiers but hey, they are an extremely interesting and dark topic to talk about. In Social Class (seems like a long time ago......), we got in depth with Human Trafficking and Child Soldiers. I get pretty emotional when it came to Human Trafficking. I think that Human Trafficking it utterly disgusting and should be stopped.

Anyways, Child Soldiers are taken from their families between the age 12 to 18. Wait! Before I get into more depth, the class watched clips of the movie, Blood Diamond (Leonardo DiCaprio)I didn't know what to expect from this movie. (May contain spoilers!) We got into the movie and it was really happy but being a person who watches too many movies and cartoons, that scene won't last very long. Movies are just easy to predict!



I had a very bad feeling from the start of the movie because I knew something was coming. I got a bit freaked out because people in tanks just started shooting at random. Just so you know, I'm the type of person that gets emotionally attatched to characters and I seriously feel their pain. The beginning of the movie pretty much scarred me for life. I didn't want to see it anymore but...........Mrs. Shepherd went into the next scene.


You just have to see the movie! You will understand my pain for those people. Did you know that these events are still happening? The movie shows innocent kids are taken by Rebel groups from their homes after their parents or family were just murdered by the Rebel groups. Sometimes, the Rebel groups would just take them without killing someone.

These kids are about seven to twelve. The Rebel groups make these kids into Killing Machines. This is where they get the term, Child Soldiers. These kids are completely, I mean literally, brainwashed to become soldiers. I'm not joking. The movie protrayed that very well, it scared me! Boys and Girls are taken. Often girls are used to be sex slaves to the soldiers. The Rebel groups would try to make these kids their "friends" so they can control them better. You know, to gain their trust. After that, they give them guns and plant lies into their heads like, "Your parents didn't want you", "the government killed them, get revenge".....and stuff like that. They didn't nessassariely make them feel bad but in the end the Rebels called the kids, Men or woman. "You can do whatever you want! No one controls you!"

The most horrific act the Rebels would make the kids do, is kill their loved ones or friends. If the kids fail to kill them, the Rebels would cut off an arm or limb of a kid. My heart just broke when I read that. Also, the Rebels would purposely rub cocaine in the childrens wounds so they go insane and ready to kill anyone in their way. That's low I'd say.....

So, what are Blood Diamonds? I happened to look up what they are! Really interesting stuff! You know what's funny? I'm looking up educational stuff while on summer break........wow. I'm crazy. :P

 
"Quel prix pour ces diamants?"- means, "What price for those diamonds?" (Good thing I took French!)  

Anyways, Blood Diamonds are diamonds that are mined in war areas such as Africa. Rebel groups sell them to fund their armies or whatever. Blood Diamonds are also called Conflict Diamonds because of where they are mined. Innocent people are taken from their homes and forced to mine these diamonds. Many people die or get murdered during the mining process. Conflict Diamonds are also illegal and a huge issue in Sierra Leione, the Congo......and other places in Africa.

I got my information+pictures from these sites!

http://townipproject.wikispaces.com/Blood+Diamonds
http://www.allmoviephoto.com/photo/2006_the_blood_diamond_013.html

Spread the Word!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Just an Update about Bracelets!

Hey guys! It's been quite a while since our last post! Anyways, summer break is going great! My family has been going camping and I have been so relaxed and lazy for the last couple weeks. However, I haven't neglected the blog at all!

A couple weeks ago, I checked the blogs email address and we had several people email us their mailing address for Congo bracelets! That made me soooo happy!!! I got extremely excited so I emailed Mrs. Shepherd for more bracelets and the rest of my group about the awesome news. I'm sorry if I emailed you guys late, I just didn't know what to say! I don't know how long the bracelets will take to get to you. It depends where you live. Also, email us back when you received your bracelet! It will be nice to know it got there safely.


Anyways, if you want one free Congo bracelet, just email us your mailing address! You will be spreading the word! You will not only change someone in the Congo's life, but yours too! Believe me, it will! :)

studentsforthecongo@gmail.com

Spread the word!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Birthdays Galore!

Uh oh! I am posting 19min too late!

That's alright. I'm excited to be back!

Well *today* was Friday, July 13th. It was a fabulous day, contrary to popular suspicions. But not only was it a great day for me, but it was a fantastic day for the Congo!
 
Today was Kambale Musavuli's birthday! Now if you need a refresher, he is the social activist/inspiration that led to our class's projects. Check out our previous posts for more information on him!

He had one very important wish - he says "My Birthday Wish is in honour of the courageous youth activists in Congo fighting for change." He is trying to raise $3 100, asking for donations of $31 each.

You can check it out here!

Now Kambale isn't the inspiration whose birthday is today. I am 98% sure that it is Mrs. Shepherd's birthday as well!

She is the one who educated us about the Congo, and kick-started our social activism groups. Our class concentrated on this competency to the point where it grew feet of its own! I think it became less of an assignment and more of a meaningful project.

So I would like to wish a very splendid birthday to those two amazing people! You guys are absolutely fantastic!


"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."- Anne Frank

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Social Activism II

Hey, it's Jen here. I suppose y'all might like to read my reflection after Rosanne mentioned it in one of our previous posts, so I decided to upload it! Some of it is just me ranting about life, so I apologize in advance. Oh and I did throw in a couple of insults directed towards Chibiko... only because she knows that I love her guts and am insanely jealous of her.

Anyways, enjoy!

 

Social Activism Reflection

Social Studies 10-1, Mrs. Shepherd

By Jennifer Taylor



The Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to over 71 million people, and is found in Central Africa. Its area totals to over 2.345 million square kilometres, with 77% being forests and woodlands. Although French is the official language, there are estimated to be over 242 languages spoken in the country. Fifty-five percent of women and seventy-six percent of men are literate, leaving approximately 35% of the population without sufficient education. Health care in the Congo is very poor, and some of the major infectious diseases include Hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and malaria. Due to such diseases as well as large amounts of violence, the life expectancy rate is only 51 years. The Congo is considered to be very rich in exports, as they export approximately $7.5 billion worth of products, including diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, coffee, petroleum, and wood.

           
The Belgium Congo

            King Leopold II is to some remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a project in which he undertook on his own behalf. To others, he is simply known as the mercenary man who used brutal force for his own personal gain. Leopold strongly believed that overseas colonies were the key to a country’s greatness, and worked to acquire colonial territory for Belgium. However, due to the lack of interest from the Belgian government, he chose to undertake the act of privately colonializing for his own benefit. In 1884, he set off to the Berlin Conference, which was held amongst the powerful European leaders in order to superimpose their domains over African land. During this conference, fourteen countries divided Africa into fifty irregular colonies. Leopold did not want to miss the chance of getting a good slice of what he called the “magnifique gâteau africain”. Although Leopold was considered a neutral ambassador, he acclaimed a part of the Congo Basin, an area 76 times larger than Belgium, which became his personal kingdom.

            Leopold began to civilize the Congo. He first sent missionaries and explorers, like he promised the European community he would. But, as Wesseling pointed out in his research book Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa 1880-1914, Leopold’s original idea of the Congo was a “national philanthropic association”. Unfortunately for the Congolese, these ideals soon changed to “private commercial enterprise”, which then became a political reality. It was at this point in history in which the innocence of the Congo was lost. Endless atrocities were committed as King Leopold attempted to colonize within the heart of Africa. Whilst many Europeans looked upon Leopold as a benevolent man, building schools and hospitals and arranging countless missions within the Congo, the truth was anything but. During the twenty-four years Leopold was in control, it is estimated that the Congo lost between five and eight million native people. Although he himself never stepped foot in the Congo, he gained enormous amounts of wealth from exporting Congolese resources. During this time the Congo became the leader in exporting ivory and rubber. Forcefully abused by Leopold’s personal army, each village was expected to achieve a set quota of locally collected these resources, which would then be sold for Belgian’s benefit. If this quota was not met, or if the villagers showed signs of rebelling, the results were brutal and inhumane. Workers were chained together, whipped, kidnapped, and held hostage. The women were raped again and again, and the death count was high. Whenever a bullet was fired, a soldier was required to in return show a Congolese hand in proof of the death. The currency of the severed hand was developed when soldiers would instead use these bullets to hunt wildlife, and brutally take the hands of innocent Congolese villagers to prove they were causing the fear and violence in the people that Leopold knew would lead to greater exports. These are just a few examples of the cruelties that the Congo has endured throughout history.

 Social Activism

            As our social class was being informed of these brutalities, I could not help but wonder how social activism could relate to something that happened such a long time ago. To my dismay, I soon learned of the legacies of King Leopold; along with ongoing conflicts over things such as resources continue to affect Congolese people. Poor media coverage has kept the issue unnoticed by developed countries, and little help is being provided. Over the course of project week, we gathered knowledge of the gender-based violence, youth in conflict, and conflict minerals in order to prepare for our video conferencing session with Kambale Musavuli, a human rights activist and member of the Friends of the Congo organization. One of the things he said that stood out in my mind was, “I want to touch your heart”. Once the act of inspiring begins, it causes change. Even if it is only a single thought that crosses someone’s mind for a half-second, or an idea that occupies their mind for an entire day. This is evidence of change.

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” –Cesar Chavez

           

The seeds of activism were planted in our minds more than four months ago. Not only have they rooted and thrived within our own souls, but have branched out into the hearts of others because of the action we have taken. The first step was to divide into groups, and developed goals amongst ourselves.

 Students for the Congo

I am a part of a group called “Students for the Congo”. Made up of five high school aged students, we set off to raise awareness of the tragedies occurring in the Congo nowadays. As Kambale suggested, we wanted to choose ways of spreading the word that relate to our lives here in Canada.   Rosanne and I are interested in blogging, her specifically the writing of posts and me connecting the web address to other social media sites and search engines. Alex wanted to attract attention by putting up posters, and Amy and Elly looked to establish a Korean blog, as well as set up donation boxes in local stores. Beginning in March, we created a blog address (http://www.studentsforthecongo.blogspot.com), as well as placed our boxes in stores such as Stop n Go, Esso, Dairy Queen, and Grandview Store. In less than two months, we acquired more than $720 in donations. As par to my responsibilities, I “spammed” our blog, entering the web address into various search engine and “pinging” sites. This helped to boost our views, and we began seeing traffic from all over the world, including countries such as United Kingdom, Morocco, Ukraine, and Italy. Inspired by the success of the blog, I continued to brainstorm for ways to spread the word. On a spur of the moment idea, I presented the intent of setting up music at the local Art Walk, and busk for donations to the group. We gathered up some of our musical friends, and handed out informational brochures on Main Street for the afternoon while playing artists such as Adele and Green Day. Many people were drawn to the music, and we used this to our advantage. Our theme was “Music to Empower”, just as Kambale and Congolese youth are using to share their stories. Playing off of each member of the groups’ individual strengths is what I believe is what led this project to be so successful.

            Like every activism group, we had our struggles. Four months is a long time to stay motivated, especially when we can’t see the results while we are working towards them. We have no way of seeing the joy on a child’s face as he sees artificial light for the first time because our money provided his village with a generator. Some days, it’s hard to find the will to write a blog post that might not even get any views. But what I have realized, is even just the knowledge that someone cares can bring comfort to the Congolese people. Another struggle that we faced was not everything we had planned was able to be a success. For example, Amy and Elly spent more time making and maintaining donations boxes than they did on the Korean blog. Rosanne and I were not able to make an informational page and rather left the blog unorganized through various postings. Learning to set realistic goals is a valuable lesson to havve, and also to realize that not everything we brainstorm we have to attain. “Success is sweet: the sweeter if long delayed and attained through manifold struggles and defeats” –A. Branson Alcott

            Although some of my group members may disagree, I feel the distribution of work was very efficient. We unintentionally chose our own parts of the project to work on independently, therefore eliminating the need for continuous group work. Due to the fact that we all possess strong leadership qualities we were able to concentrate on our own segment of the project, occasionally checking up on the group progress. Unfortunately, our lack of regular group meetings left some members out of the loop, and therefore they were not able to contribute as much as they could have. If we were to do this project again, a valuable tip would be to make sure everyone knew what they were expected to do, rather than leaving it up to the individual to choose something to do.  This would have ensured full participation from all members, and a better sense of collaboration. A risk of allowing less individual work would be that things such as the blog might not have been as well developed if we attempted to involve all group members in the process. It is easier to find an hour within your day without have to make sure that hour coincides with theirs as well.

            As the world becomes increasingly globalized, the role of social media grows in importance. To possess the power to spread your opinion with society by simple typing it online is a major advancement in civilization. Like many other social activism groups, we used this to our advantage. Having already been established in the blogging community, this gave us access to influence regular Blogger readers. Simply having a Facebook account also allows the immediate attention of hundreds of friends. Now, instead of repeating yourself in countless conversations to have your opinion heard, you can effortlessly tweet about it. People, who may never have bothered to listen to a social studies lecture, will now have “accidently” read a short Facebook status, which could cause another seed to be sown. A Youtube video that appears in the related videos column, even if never watched, may be a piece of information that hides in the back of someone’s mind until brought forth in conscious conversation. Consequently, a news article about the conflict in the Congo might remind an individual of a tweet/status/video seen months ago, even if they had simply glanced at it. This is the power of social media, harnessed by the ordinary people of first world countries.

            And then there are the not so ordinary people. Youth in the Congo, social activists, good Samaritans, who desperately want to be heard, but are second to talking dog videos and rants on the cost of gas. Why is the attention of educated people being given to fifteen year old Manga blog authors and that guy on Youtube that makes lame jokes, when social activism projects are struggling to reach enough views to make their efforts worthwhile?

“The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow” –Bill Gates

            Globalization has greatly affected people in the DRC. The demand for minerals has grown higher, and many of the materials need to make modern day devices such as laptops and cell phones are mined within the Congo. As large companies look for cheaper labour and raw materials, the Congo suffers the cost difference. But globalization has also affected the Congo from a positive perspective. Today, more people know more about the atrocities being committed than they did ten or fifteen years ago. The spread of information has multiplied in speed, as has the demand for knowledge. If someone from your local community died, you would want to know the why’s and how’s. In my opinion, this form of thought processing is being added to a larger scale. Some people are asking why people in the Congo are dying, and want to change that. “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” –John Lennon. Unfortunately, as Joseph Stalin once said, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic. Coincidently, he also said that death is the solution to all problems, if there is no man, there is no problem. But on the subject of social change, he mentioned that education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds is in his hands and at whom it is aimed. A very wise man he was indeed.

            We, as globalized citizens, hold the power to make a difference. It is our choice whether or not we want to. As I see it, you can work hard all of your life, and one of two things will happen. If you solely work for your own personal gain, you will end up living in a big house; never have to worry about your money running out, and a feeling of accomplishment. But, if you work solely for others, you may live your life not knowing where your next meal is coming from; have a roof with a leak, and a feeling of accomplishment. Most people live somewhere between these extremities. One of the decisions that haunts my future is where I am going to sit on the scale. I can’t help but worry that wherever I chose to fall, the grass on the other side will remain greener. I am constantly in fear of regrets. Living as a globalized citizen effects everyday choices as well. Should I use my weeks’ worth of hard earned money to help a child without shoes or to pay for my cell phone bill? If asked the question of which is more important, I would then question why I continue to spend money on my own wants. I feel that I cannot commit myself to both individual success and change within the world, because I do not see them as a common achievement. Whether this choice haunts others as much as it does me I have yet to understand.

            Social activism is a key to being a globalized citizen. To bring about positive change within another’s life is what I feel to be a continuous life goal. Over the course of this project, I have accumulated some words of wisdom to share with future activists. Developing a network is priority if you wish to be heard. Whether this occurs in real life or through social media, many people are willing to lend an ear to a great cause. Also, a strong group of co-workers can energize and motivate, sharing common vibes and successes. Finally, always think about the outcomes. Constant reminders of why you are choosing to make a difference can assist when the moods and energies are low. Because in a world with so much pain and suffering, giving up is simply not an option.

Conclusion

Although our social studies class has come to a conclusion, our activism project has not. Why stop at $700 when we could raise another hundred by simply setting out one donation box? Even since our last write up of our project, we have accumulated another 500 views on the blog, totaling to almost 1500 since March. We cannot measure exactly how our group as well as our classmates made a difference in the DRC, but we know that it has happened. Various generators will allow communities access to electricity, and Congolese youth will be given devices they can use to share their story. It shocked me to find out that they could not use the fibre optic cable which would allow them access to the internet. Canadians take advantage of this, using Facebook accounts and blogs to share unimportant, annoying information, degrading the meaning and strength of their words. If we give this power to the people who desperately crave it, the possibilities are unimaginable. As a class, we have raised a total of $2458.65 and counting. There is no doubt in my mind that more people know about the Congo now than they did four months ago. We are making a difference. It may be a small step in bringing peace to the Congolese people, but that does not diminish its importance. Even if it was not the passion of my peers, I hope that they will be able to take the same lessons that I have, as well as use and apply them to bring forth future change within the world. From a teacher, to a class of high school aged students, to the world,



Change is happening.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Skype Session with Kamable!

Ideas from the first Skyping session with Kambale!
School is offically over and I totally forgot about this post! I'm such a dork! :P Exams felt brutal......anyways, here's the post! Hope you enjoy it!

Kambale MusavuliSo a couple of days ago (quite a long time ago), we did our last Skype session with Kambale, the famous Social Activist. Remember our last skype session in March? If not, I'll fill you in! Kambale Musavuli is a Social Activist for the Congo. He currently lives in New York (I wish I lived there!). I felt like I was talking to a celebrity! He gave us tons of cool facts and ideas of how we can carry out our Social Activism projects. You can read his bio here!

Basically our last Skype Session was wraping our projects and summurizing our goals and successes and presenting them to Kambale. I was extremely happy when he said that he remembered my name! I feel special.........I actually talked the most because I was talking about the blog. I love talking how great the Congo blog succeeded. He asked questions like, "Where did you get your information", "Where did you put the boxes" and stuff like that. I of course answered them with a happy face. I'm so proud of my group!

After the mini presentations from each group, we presented a big cheque for the Congo. I smiled so much when Kambale told us he was touched. I can't remember what he told us exactly but it was along the lines of, "out of all the Social Activism groups I have known, none of them achieved what you achieved". Sorry if I'm wrong but this skyping session was quite a long time ago! I'm really happy when he said that to the class!
In total, the class raised (drumroll please!) $2541.66! If you asked me, thats pretty amazing! :D

The next day, Kambale tweeted about us! Did you read that? About us!!!

kambale @kambale
A campus of 500 students in a city of 5000 people in Canada mobilized to break the silence through 6 student groups in social activism class

Speaking to students at Wm. E. Hay Composite H.S. today gave me greater hope for Congo. Never seen any school do what they did for Congo.
 
Students at Wm. E. Hay Composite High School shattered the silence around +raised funds to support Congolese youth on the ground

I just checked my Social teachers blog and the Friends of the Congo sent an email to her! This is so exciting!! :D :D Also, our class is in the Newspaper!! :D


Hello Ms Shepherd

This is Maurice Carney, the Executive Director of Friends of the Congo. I wanted to thank you personally for the remarkable work that you and your students have done. It is not only encouraging but also inspiring. We are truly touched and grateful. Please let every single student, teacher and others who participated know that they have made a difference. We will feature this great work on our website and in our newsletter. At some point, we would love to arrange for you to speak directly with the youth on the ground via Skype. We can arrange for the youth on the ground to speak first to the key organizers and later to a large gathering at your school to thank you personally for your efforts to support their work on the ground inside the Congo.

Please send us the link to the article once it is published. We will look out for the check in the mail and we look forward to your participation in Congo Week.

Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We look forward to continue building with you and the students.

Maurice Carney
Executive Director
Friends of the Congo


Our last day of Social class was really interesting. Unfortunetaly Mrs. Shepherd couldn't make it to the class because she had to interview teachers for the art position. Sniff.......sniff........my favorite Art teacher is leaving me!!!! T_T That means there won't be a Sign Language club......sigh. :(


Anyways, in Social class, Mrs. Shepherd gave us Fair Trade chocolate (AMAZING!) and Fair Trade Sparkling Juice. > x < It tasted so good I could die! The food was great and it helped people around the world! The chocolate made me so happy! I'm going to miss our social class.......

Have a great summer!! Spread the Word!!!!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Congo Reflection #1!

I have decided to post my reflection on the blog! Everybody in my social class had to write one. It wasn't that hard and was actually fun writing it. I was extremely happy (I mean REALLY happy) when Mrs. Shepherd asked if she can have a copy of my Reflection. I never had someone ask that from me in my entire life! I think this proves my writing is getting better.........maybe not. :P My reflection is........11 pages long double spaced with pictures. I was getting into it!

Today, I had a study session for Social. Jen, Amy and Elly came over to study. Jen read my reflection and she was really touched. I didn't see why or how. Maybe because I wrote it. I don't know!

I edited some of it my reflection but I was feeling really lazy so I decided not to edit anymore. Studying for Social is really tiring! Good thing I'm only doing it for fun. I'm sorry if there isn't enough support.......I really fail at that when it comes to that! I tried!

Congo Reflection



 
The conflict in the Congo dates back to the 1880's. Unfortunately, the conflict is still happening as we speak and there are millions of people that do not know around the world. In 1880, fourteen countries gathered together to a conference called the Berlin Conference. It was organized by Otto Van Bismark. This conference was during a period known as the Scramble for Africa. During this conference, each country (France, England...) would claim a part of Africa like it was a piece of cake. The country that took the Congo was King Leopold II, the king of Belgium. He personally owned the Congo. That would be nice to own a country. During that time period, King Leopold II only wanted ivory tusks and rubber from the rubber trees. There were massive murders of villagers and violence among each village. The reason for this was if a village failed to reach the quota, then a villager would get his/her hands cut off or worse, murders of an entire village. Cutting of the hands is known to be the Currency of the Severed Hands. It is the price to pay for doing a poor job.

            King Leopold II would just sit in Belgium. He wouldn’t get his hands dirty. His henchman would just do the work for him. Thanks to King Leopold, over 10 million Congolese people died from the hard work, poverty and harsh environment they had to live though each day.

             As the world advances, people start to discover the vast resources of the Congo, not just ivory tusks and rubber. Sometimes there are just some things the world shouldn’t know but the world ended up discovering it anyways!

You name it; countries around the world want gold, diamonds, oil which the Congo has. Anything can be practically found in the Congo. Thanks to the vast amount of resources, the world wants it all! Just like that, the Congo is the center of resources, selling enough resources that can last for years.

The Congo is known to be one of the richest countries in the world. But that’s just the surface or the mask of the Congo. If you look deeper into the Congo, you will see poverty, hunger, pain, fear and violence. 50% of children under the age of 5 die. That percentage is just out of 1500 Congolese people everyday.

Sometimes we take for granted the limit of resources we have in the world. One day we will run out of resources. Everybody wants more of everything. The more we take in, the more we use up the resources. We, the people in North America, keep demanding resources from the Congo. For example, a popular mineral people in North America want are Diamonds or Coltan. Coltan is a mineral that is used to make our cellphones, laptops and digital camera’s. The more we demand it, the more is required to mine from the Congo. It comes at a price.

            Its just a chain that dates back from the 1880`s. In a way, we are like King Leopold II that want the resources and not caring of the Congolese people. The actions of King Leopold II became the history of the Congolese people. King Leopold was either seen as a devil or an angel, depending on who you talk to in the Congo. King Leopold used his riches that he got from the Congo and built beautiful structures in Belgium. French is one of the official languages in the Congo because the Belgians came in the 1880`s and colonized the Congo.

The result of Historical Globaliztion are women being raped and children from the age of 12 to 18 are taken from their own home and brainwashed to become child soldiers. The Government is unstable and the money the Government has, isn’t going to the people. The conflict is still happening because of the never ending of resources.

            We were introduced to the situation in the Congo through Social Class. We got into more detailed of the subject during project week. We even talked to kids from the Congo after project week and asked them questions about their life there. Our first Skyping session was with Social Activist, Kamabale Musavuli.


First off, it was really cool Skyping with a famous Social Activist. I didn't know what to expect from this Skyping session. I was prepared for his thick accent and it wasn't so bad talking with him. It was an amazing experience talking with a live Social Activist. He shared a bunch of information about the Congo. It was a good thing we talked about the Congo before hand so the class actually knew what Kambale was talking about. The things Kambale said were extremely inspiring. I even wrote them down.


"You have the power to change the world. I believe you will change Canada"- Kambale Musavuli

“I want to touch your heart” Kambale Musavuli 

“What do you like to do? Use your talents..."- Kamable Musavuli

“Get the word out”- Kamabale Musavuli

On project week the class was introduced to social activism and more information about the Congo. We talked about the history and impacts of the Congo. Kamabale suggested a lot of things our groups could do for the social activism projects we were about to do. He even told us when his birthday is! We were invited to his birthday because by the time his birthday comes, Kambale wants there to be peace in the Congo!

            One way of learning about Social Activism projects was actually doing one. Soon after the skyping sessions, the class split into different groups and began planning our Social Activism projects.

Kamabale gave us ideas of using our talents. “Use what you are passionate about to spread the word of the Congo.”- Kamabale Musavuli

            I did exactly what Kamabale said. Through Social Media, I used my talent of blogging to draw attention of the Congo. What I basically got out of the Skyping Session is this: there are people in need. Plus, nobody knows about it! Learning about the Congo made me realize that there are actual problems where the people of the world don’t know. It was time to take action!

The project was about raising awareness about the Congo. We decided to use the power of blogging to spread the word because I was keen in posting on blogs. If I do say myself, I'm a genius when it comes to blogging.


Our main goals were raising awareness about the Congo. A minor goal was to raise money for the Congo. Each person in our group had one or two responsibilities on the project. My group had five female members in total: Amy, Elly, Jen, Me and Alex. I was responsible for posting on the blog. I encouraged everyone to post on the blog but it was mostly me who posted for the first couple months. Jen picked up the pace and posted one or two posts for the past month. At times she would finish my posts whenever I left them unfinished. Amy and Elly were responsible for the donation boxes and posters. Alex was responsible for planning. Jen was responsible for pinging and Art walk.

Time Line

March 17- whenever, 2012- Blog posts
March 19, 2012: 8 AM- Congo Conference
March 18, 2012- Make boxes for Congo fundraiser and place in Amy’s store
Spring Break- Gather as a group and create posters to put up in town.
June 2 2012- Art Walk


There would be times when our group wouldn’t function. We would need some kind of motivation to actually get around to do blogging or getting together and make posters. However, we still did very well. I would keep pushing the members of the group by telling them about what I posted on the studentsforthecongo blog. I would brag about the amount of people or followers we have on the blog. That way, I somehow motivated them into getting them to do their responsibilities. Amy and Elly got boxes out to our local businesses and posters around town. Jen gave us viewers and Alex planned everything out very well.

The blog did extremely well. Near of the end of the project, the blog has gotten over 1,000 views and seven followers. It felt like we were just getting started but it was just only a project. Of course, being the person I am, I wanted to keep the blog going.

The boxes that Amy and Elly put in their store and other local businesses got a lot of money. We raised over $700 dollars. Jen did a huge success at the Art walk and spreading the word through her talent of playing the piano. She even got two of our friends who aren’t in our social class to get involved. The names of our two friends were Maggie and Aaryn. They both have beautiful singing voices and they sang with Jen at the Art Walk. Amy and Elly took pictures for proof and handed out pamphlets about the Congo.

The group would fail to get together and take action in what we planned in the timeline. If we were to do something individually, for example the blog, then it would be fine. When it came to actually doing together, we just couldn’t find the time to do it. Alex lived out of town and I had worked half the time. If we were going to do the project again, we could have gathered more as a group and make time for our meetings. The Social Activism project felt more like an individual thing at times so I want to do things more with other member of my group.

Today, society has been using 82% of their time of either checking or updating Facebook, Youtube or Twitter. That means, news can travel pretty fast and the world can know what is going on.

http://www.joesblogg.com/2010/03/social-media-usage-statistics-2010/

Just posting the link to our blog (www.studentsforthecongo.blogspot.com) on Facebook would boost the pageviews to the blog. Even posting it on my own personal blog, viewers would eventually start checking out the Congo blog.

Without social media word wouldn’t spread as fast. Social Media can impact Social Activism projects greatly. Sorry but without Facebook or Twitter, or even internet for that matter, nothing can get out. Social Media can give power to a helpless woman somewhere in the Congo. She can be heard and people will know.

“Without Twitter the people of Iran would not have felt empowered and confident to stand up for freedom and democracy,” Mark Pfeifle, a former national-security adviser, later wrote, calling for Twitter to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Where activists were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools. Facebook warriors go online to push for change. “You are the best hope for us all,” James K. Glassman, a former senior State Department official.

Taken from:

            If the world knows what is happening in the Congo, then surely, the world will do something about it. The money the class raised goes to the men, women and children of the Congo to help them get through the day. The silence of women being raped will be broken and child soldiers will become normal children again. Giving hope to people in the Congo can change them. If I lived in a place where women are raped each day by rebels, I would have lost hope that anybody would care. But if I knew a normal teenager from Social class is raising money and awareness for me then that would truly touch my heart. I know there is someone who knows my story and what I’m going through. That would give me hope.

I’m sure every kid in the Congo wants to live a normal life, not a life of violence. Children deserve a future.

            Also, the money the class raised will go to buying generators for Congolese communities for electricity. I’m pretty sure the communities there would really appreciate it. I would die without electricity! If there is no electricity, then there is no internet! Electricity can connect Congolese communities to others and make them stronger and in tuned of what’s going on.

            My first piece of advice of creating a meaningful and sustainable Social Activism project is, finding a good problem in the world to fight for and spread the word. Don’t just pick something you aren’t interested in. Our Social class had no choice but chose the Congo but that isn’t a bad thing. After learning the situation there, I was determined to get the word out to the world. If you aren’t determined, energenic or passionate about the subject you are fighting for, what’s the point in fighting? Have tons of enthusiasm!

            You also need to have great members in your team that are pumped to be Social Activists. You need to find the time and information about the situation and it would the Social Activism project worthwhile and meaningful. You will feel great after what you’ve done for the poor people! Spread the word by using your talents!

            Time is a very important piece when doing Social Activism Projects. Don’t waste your time when you have a Social Activism project to do. The amount of time you put into it, the more you get out of it.

We teenagers and kids have a voice. We can impact a society. Our role in a globalizing world is to make the world a better place. We can imagine what the world would look like without war or inspire women in different countries to fight aids or deforestation. I can turn the heads of people in society by creating a blog so I can raise awareness of the Congo. I can reach out to a teenage girl like me half way across the globe. I can tell her that I care and want to help her situation, where she is.

We teenagers can influence the economy and be active consumers. Without teenagers or kids, half of company’s profits would go down. Once a teenager has money, they want to spend it on something. By the time that teenager becomes an adult, he or she would want to spend that money wisely. Teenagers and kids can impact a lot and change something, even a life of poor woman in the Congo.

One method I will use is being energenic and passionate about what I’m fighting for. I continue to post on the blog as much as I can and make sure I’m supplying a lot of information about the Congo. If I find another problem, for example, Saudi Arabia, I can create another blog about Saudi Arabia and what’s going on there. I want to change the world!

The second method I’m going to use is, managing my time.

I will keep in mind that I’m not the only person on this planet. There are other people that are in need and struggling to stay alive each day. I will be empathetic and put myself in others shoes to know what it feels like to be them.

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If you want a Congo Bracelet.....

Alright! We had some comments about ordering Congo Bracelets. I'm sorry for not getting to any of you or answering your comments because it has been an extremely busy week at school. We have been wrapping up projects and such. I'm quite sad......but I'll continue to post about the Congo during the Summer!

If you want to order a Congo Bracelet, you can email us your mailing address. Please don't post your mailing address on the blog because I'm sure you don't want stalkers mailing you weird things. You can trust us with your mailing address! *This offer is available for a limited time only. Get your free Congo bracelet now!*

Our mailing address is, studentsforthecongo@gmail.com. Go ahead and email us if you have any questions or comments!


This is how it works. You email us your mailing address and we send one free Congo Bracelet plus a Thank you letter for your support. On behalf of the bracelets, you can donate to the Friends of the Congo. It will be greatly appreciated! :D

If not, you can just tell people about the Congo! Wear your bracelet everyday! I wear mine all the time! People soon started to see the bracelet and asked about them. It was really cool to see the amount of people getting aware about the Congo. Once people starting to notice your bracelet, you know you have the chance to change someone's life by telling your friends, parents and siblings. Join the movement!

"Get the word out"- Kambale Musavuli

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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Classmates!

Here is an update from what our classmates are doing with the social activism projects!

This group is called BAAMM4CONGO and they made a Youtube video for you to watch!


Monday, 4 June 2012

Congo Health

I would love to thank all our viewers that have been reading our blog! We have reached 1,000 views! Yay! Thanks so much for spreading the word! I believe we made a difference in the world just by doing this!

 
Today I found out that we soon unfortunately have to wrap up our social activism projects. That kinda makes me sad. I enjoy posting on this blog and I'll admit, I get a bit competitive when it comes to blogging. :P There's still a lot of things to do before we wrap up this project!

 
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Although Rosanne started this post, I believe she deserves a slice of karma. So I, Jen, am going to finish it for her! Mwahaha.

Two weeks from now is the official deadline for our activism projects (well, according to Mrs. Shepherd that is). But, the glorious thing about a blog is we can leave it unattended, and people will still be able to read all the fabulous information we have posted! And who knows, maybe we will be back once in a while.

To be honest, I have really no idea what Rosanne meant by the title. So I am going to interpret it as the health care available in the Congo.

One of the causes of mortality in the DRC is malnutrition. Unfortunately, this accounts for 11% of total deaths. This is due to ongoing violence preventing the young and weak from adequate nutrtion. This is especially upsetting, because you don't need to be a doctor to know how to "cure" it!

The majority of victims of illness suffer from infectious diseases such as malaria, which is not uncommon in third world countries. Of course, these can be avoided as well as treated under normal circumstances. But unfortunately limited health care hinders this.

According to this source, the mains barriers to access of health care are:
  • inadequacy or non-existence of healthcare provision
  • patients’ inability to pay for healthcare
  • non-availability of quality medication
  • lack of supervision and training of medical personnel
  • non-payment of health workers’ and officials’ salaries
  • geographical inaccessibility and non-existence of the communication structures
needed for the long distances between patients’ homes and the nearest health
centre.


Another need for health care stems from the ongoing violence. Out of an interviewed 986 families, fiftey cases of rape were reported, as well as 72% had admitted that a member of their family was a victim of violence.

Here is a frightening quote I found while I was researching:

Most Congolese people live in absolute poverty on an average of just $0.30 a day. In the rural areas most of the families are vulnerable and sickness or disease are regarded as a tragedy. Just like four years ago, most of the victims are still dying in silence, while the world’s attention is elsewhere.


According to this source, only 20% of the DRC currently has access to health care. The two major reasons are poverty and terrain. Not only do two thirds of the people live on less than $1 a day, but the country is vast and with no paved roads. This doctor goes on to talk about various cases, which is really quite interesting!

I hope as the world becomes increasingly globalized, ordinary people like us will have the ability to make a significant difference in Congolese lives. The first source I read was from the Doctors without Borders program. This has always been a dream of mine, to be able to treat sick children and young people in poor countries. If I worked as a doctor in Canada, I would inevitably be dealing with cases of drunk driving accidents, drug abusers, gang members, and careless accidents. Although these people should not be denied care, I would much rather help people who value their lives much more. Why are we spending so much money on people who throw away their lives and who are likely to repeat the same actions, while so many deaths are caused by a lack of funds for basic health care.

Well that was my rant for the day. I better leave it at that. I hope it gave you some food for thought.


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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Music to Empower

Hey, it's Jen here!

This has been a successful weekend for Students for the Congo, that's for sure!

As Rosanne mentioned before, about a month ago we had the chance to have a video conference with real live Congolese youth! We learned that they are also working to educate the world about the Congo! They are using music and dance to bring awareness and to send the message. The organization "Friends of the Congo" is raising money to send recording equipment and other technological advancements to assist them in this project.

Inspired, we decided to take the same idea, and apply it to our own situation. Yesterday, a couple of friends and I (Yay! More Students for the Congo!) set up at the local Art Walk, and busked for donations towards this cause! Along with having posters explaining our group, we also handed out pamphlets letting people know where they could donate and how else they could help.


Although we didn't raise as much money as we had hoped ($31.36.... It's a small town!), we are hoping that we spread the word to many people!





Here are some quotes from our pamphlets!

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." - John Lennon


"A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things." - Barack Obama

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only things that ever has." - Margaret Mead

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." - Elie Wiesel

"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history" - Sonia Johnson

"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours." - Cesar Chavez

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi


Here is a video of us playing 21 Guns by Green Day. It's only the middle part, my apologies. Oh and if it doesn't play, it's my fault not yours! (I always look so serious while playing piano... -_-)



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Friday, 25 May 2012

Education in the DRC!

Just so you know, Jen started this post but got caught up with other things. I was also blogging and had a great topic to blog about until I found her unfinished post! So I decided to finish it for her! At least I'm not the only one trying to get this blog updated!
This weekend is Grad weekend. This evening, they have what is called Friday Night Grad, which is only open to the Grade 12's and teachers, and then tomorrow is the ceremony. This year I am important enough to get to go!!! :)

So it got me wondering.... what kind of education system is in the DRC?
File:DRC classroom.jpg

Out of a population of 3 883 000, 47% are under the age of 15 years old. That is a large amount of school aged children. 12.6% of the Congolese budget is spent on education, divided up as so. The school system is like Belgium because Belgium was the country that claimed the Congo.

(By this point, I, Chibiko if you want to be technical, has taken over this post!)
Not very many kids in the Congo attend school. Children who actually go to school will most likely have to walk to the nearest school near their village which maybe miles away. Also, some schools aren't funded the money they need to get equipment or new computers for students. I am quite thankful for the new computers we have at my school. The one thing I'm thankful for is that we don't have to wear school uniforms.



School uniforms define what school you go to. So if you went to another school and wore your school uniform there, they would be able to tell that you are a student at this certain school. When I went to school in the Philippines (I'm Filipino!), we always had to wear uniforms. The downside to having to wear school uniforms is that you won't be able to wear what ever you want. I loved wearing uniforms because I didn't have to worry about thinking about what to wear the next day. Plus, we students would look the same and won't be judged of what we wear. It feels nice. Of course, some students at my school will object.


Schools in the Congo or in Africa won't allow children to come to school without proper uniform. Some kids even get sent home because they aren't wearing their uniform. Children either have parents that can't afford school uniforms or don't have parents at all.
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HOW DARE YOU!!! IT'S JEN AGAIN! I WASN'T FINISHED WRITING!!! -_-

Ok so I was saying this...

Out of a population of 3 883 000, 47% are under the age of 15 years old. That is a large amount of school aged children. 12.6% of the Congolese budget is spent on education, divided up as so: 40% on primary education, 31% on secondary education, 27% on tertiary education, and 1% on pre-primary education. The school system is like Belgium because Belgium was the country that claimed the Congo.

The literacy rate for women over the age of 15 is 55%. That means almost half of the women in the Congo can't read or write. However, 78% of men are literate. This is another example of gender based inequalities.

The ratio of teachers to students is 1:70, meaning each class has an average of 70 students. I can't even imagine having that many kids running around! I guess school is different there. Here, at least when we are young, it's something your parents make you do, and a time for you to hang out with friends and make fun projects. In the Congo, going to school is a privilege. I can imagine they wouldn't misbehave AT ALL for fear of getting kicked out.

But the exciting news? Three out of four children in the Congo now go to school (according to this source). Change is happening! It isn't perfect yet, but it is getting closer. There is hope!

Alright, sorry about the posting confusion. It's all Rosanne's fault. She stole my post!

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Congolese Children

Today in Social class, our social teacher, Mrs. Shepherd (she is amazing!) brought a whole pile of toys. It was May long weekend and she decided that we should play. Mrs. Shepherd had to persuade her two year old son to bring his toys to school. Of course, Mrs. Shepherd always has an interesting lesson attached. I love her teaching methods, they always stay in my mind!

Anyways, if you were wondering what our lesson was about, it was about how toys that were made in China had to get reimbursed because the paint contained a chemical called Lead. It is very harmful to us and it was in children's toys. This reminded me of how Globalization effected the Congo. Everything that we have that is linked electronically is linked back to the Congo. The Congo is rich in many resources you can think of but the people are still suffering.

After our little lesson, I started to think about the children in the Congo. What kind of toys do they play with? What kind of games do they play?

To the internet! :D



Congolese childern mainly play Soccer or Football depending what country you are from. I'm from Canada I prefer the sport to be called Soccer. Boys don't use an actually soccer ball. Guess what they use?

A grapefruit! They are sour. Or anything that is round! :D That is awfully interesting! That would really hurt.... ^_^

They even make their own! These kids are really creative!!



Something I found out is that kids make models of planes or trucks out of balsa wood and clay. Little kids roll around with a tires. Boys also love to play tag or even swim in the nearest river and play. I miss being a kid (a teenager is technically a kid but I never have the time to play!). I love to play tag!



Congolese girls usually don't play as much as the boys. They start to help their mother at the age of five. But the girls do what girls in Canada do. They play jump rope (I love jump rope!), talk, dance, sing in choirs of their own (amazing!), play with each others hair and dress up.

A game girls love to play is Tobeta Maboko. The game goes like this, kids face each other clap their hands and jump to a certain rhtymn. Whoever can last the longest with the right feet placement at the right time, they win!



Congolese children are quite lucky to have the time to play. Since many of them are orphans, the older kids don't have the time to play. They have to take care of their familes that might consist of many children. Some children are sent to become Child soldiers or to work at mines at a very young to earn money for their starving familes. Females are often raped and shunned from their own community.

It was a bit difficult to find Congolese children and their toys but I found a video about kids and tennis! It was very interesting. Since these children basically have nothing, they make use of things such as garbage or scraps that lay around and turn them into toys!


Kids also go to school. Familes have to pay a fee in order for their kids to attend. But if they don't have enough money, they always send the males instead of the females. They believe males need more education and females will only get some education. Females are ment to be at home, doing the chores and help the mother. Congolese kids sometimes have to walk long distances to go to school. Or even stay with relatives or in a dorm because the school is that far. On weekends, they go home.

My friends family are missionaries. They tell me that in Africa the churches are more active. I looked it up and in the Congo, the people get up and sing and dance! At my church, they would sing but rarely dance. We have guitars, a piano and drums. In the Congo, they have singers in choirs. Sometimes they have a traditional drum but thats pretty much it. I can't remember what part of Africa my friend was saying but the people don't have an actual building to worship their god so they go under a random mango tree!



I got my information here! It is such an interesting site so check it out!

http://www.paulcarlson.org/for-kids-families/life-in-congo/

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