Thursday, 29 March 2012

Facts about the Congo

Spring Break is in session for us students but that is not going to stop us. We are still posting about the Congo.

Did you know that the death rates haven't even gone since the war? Many of them are under the age of 5.

Lots of our technology has a piece of the Congo in it.

The Congo has some of the most beautiful rivers and forests in the world. Without it, the world would have more global warming problems than ever.

Child Soldiers

The situation isn't getting any better...

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Video Conference 2

Once again at 8 am in the morning, kids from our class and group attended another video conference with actual students of the Congo. It was definitely exciting for us and them. At the beginning of the conference we had to introduce our school, how many people attending the conference, where your school is and an interesting fact of presentation for the students from the Congo. One school had a student sing "Where is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas while playing the ukulele. That was really cool!

We talked about how people think that we live igloos because Canada is pretty cold which is true and how we Canadians love our Tim Hortons! The student of the Congo sang us a song. It was impressive and cool!

Here is a bio taken from the "Students rebuild" site and our social teachers blog.

ETN is a vocational training school supported by CARE in the DRC. The center offers eight vocational training programs ranging from mechanics, to sewing, to plumbing, and even modern African cuisine! This year long program works with demobilized child soldiers, survivors of gender-based violence and street children to help them gain a skill set with which they can build a livelihood for themselves after completion of training.

There is Michael. He is 21 years old. He had 9 siblings but lost most of them to conflict and illness. He lives just outside of Goma with his aunt – both of whom have AIDS. Everyday, he walks over an hour to ETN to learn culinary art. In the future he hopes to be an artist to share his story.

There is Baraka. She is 13 years old. She loves Rihanna and has even tried to copy her hairdos several times (not the red one though!). She studies computing and electronics at ETN and dreams of becoming an engineer. She would like to bring sustainable electricity to her neighborhood.

There is also Patrick, or as his friends call him "LMP." He is 19 years old. He is actually from Rwanda (we will learn more about this interesting relationship between the two border countries later). He was a child soldier but just this past year, he was given the opportunity to study at ETN. He decided he would have more opportunities in the future with an education so he stopped being a solider. He is currently studying mechanics.

Then there is Moise. He is 20 years old. Although not formally part of the group of students I work with, he came up to me and asked me questions about America (not knowing I'm actually Belgian!). He told me he wished to study in the US with one caveat: to return to Congo and become a humanitarian worker. When asked "why?" he simply responded "to help my country develop."
And finally there is Abigael. She is 20 years old. Abigael has been an orphan most of her life. She studies computing and plans on travelling the United States and Europe to meet her peers and learn from them via technology – she believes education is the key to her country's development. In the meantime, she would like to learn how to build a cellphone.

End of bio!

We got to talk about Canada and the Congo. The students of the Congo attend something called the ETN where they take former child soldiers and rehabilitate them. The ETN teaches kids to get a job in society such as a cook, mechanic etc. It was interesting to hear them speak French. For some of us attending the video conference, there wasn't much of a language barrier because some of us took french as an option. The students of the Congo don't speak english.

For about an hour, students from North America and the Congo would exchange questions about each other. One question was asked for the Congo students, "What was life like to be a Child Soldier?", or something around those lines. Pauline, the translator, translated the question for them and added, "You don't have to answer the question" at the end. The students just shook their heads and didn't want to answer. Pauline said to us that the question is a delicate question and it portrays the pain the students suffered. They didn't even want to talk about it which was ok.

Some challenges these kids face is the problem with resources. Some kids don't have materials for school. The technology the ETN has is probably only six computers and cellphones which they don't use very often because the lack of electricity. This video conference gave an opportunity for the students of the Congo to experience technology.

It was interesting to hear of what kind of music the students listen to. One student told us that he listens to Lil' Wayne, Eninmen and Micheal Jackson. Pauline told us she didn't even know those artists which made us laugh.

Visit these sites! Like on Facebook! Check out the students rebuild site to learn more about the ETN!

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Monday, 19 March 2012

Cool Video Conference!

So today at 8 am, some students from our group participated in a video conference with several different people such as guest speakers, Naomi Natale- Founder & Director, One Million Bones, Guilia McPherson- Advocacy Alliances Manager, CARE USA and Rose Viva- Project Manager, CARE DRC. We got to see other students from New York, Las Vegas and Chicago which was very cool. Some schools are just learning about the situation through this video conference and that's great. Just talking with different people will raise awarness about the Congo.

It was really interesting to ask questions about the Congo with Rose because she spoke French! We would have to wait for her translator, Pauline Zerla, to translate for us. That was cool.

Read this blog to see who we were talking too and what it was about!

During the video conference, Rose mentioned something called the ETN which a program that takes in former child soldiers and rehabilitate them to become workers in society instead of kids of the army.

It was really cool to ask questions to guest speaker, Naomi Natale. Her project, One Million Bones is to raise awarness about the Congo through Art. Her challenge to us students is to make bones out of clay and send them in to New York so she can use them out of millions of other bones from all over the world to create one huge sculpture. This sculpture will be placed in the National Mall in Washington, DC. One student asked the question, "Why bones?" and Naomi replied with, "We are connected in some way. In the Congo they have minerals that we use for cellphones or laptops. We belong to each other and we need to care of each other."


For more information about her project, read this blog!

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Beautiful forests of the Congo

The Congo homes a large population of Gorilla's.

Next to the Amazon, the Congo Basin is the world's second largest tropical forest. The Congo Basin contains over 10,000 animal species and 600 tree species. However, the numbers are lowering thanks to deforestation which is massive cutting of trees in an area, and agricultural needs.

In the Congo Basin there lives over 150 ethnic groups and shelters 75 million people. The forests provides groups, foriegners and refugees, protection from combatants near the roads and fresh resources such as water and wood. In some areas of the forest, there is a great deal of deforestation and illegal gorilla poaching.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Spread the Word!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Plans: Video Conference

On March 12, 2012, our social class got to experience a Skype video conference with human activist, Kambale Musavuli. This guy is really important! (Read his bio here!) He personally said to us, "I believe you will make a difference in Canada". That made our whole class so psyched to do this social activism project about the Congo.

Kambale Musavuli

Video conference with the Congo- Experts speak will be taking place on Monday morning, March 19th at 8:00am. Another video conference with the Congo- students speak will happen at 8:00am on March 21st. Everybody in our social class are totally psyched to take part in this! We will get to another learning opportunity to learn more about the situation about the Congo youth and have another experience of a life time. I can't wait!

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Child Soldiers

Childern of all ages are taken from homes and given the responsibility of the whole country. Parents of children are killed and families are seperated. Children become killing machines and terrorists. Kids aren't supposed to be in war. Kids need to be kids. Not soldiers in war. Children aren't made for that kind of thing. Some are even the same age of us grade 10 kids. Children don't deserve a path like that.

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Why is this happening?

The Congo, also known as the heart of darkness, is the heart of Africa. The Congo was discovered to have tons of minerals such as diamonds, gold, tin, copper, colton, uranium, cobalt, you name it. The Congo has it. The world takes the Congo's resources because the Congo has minerals nessassary for our kind of technology such as cellphones, t.v's etc. The Congo is considered a heaven and rich to the outside but in the inside, the Congo is a hell on earth. War is happening everywhere and the world doesn't even know about it.
People die from starvation and overwork every hour. 50 women are being raped every hour. Children are being taken from their homes to become soldiers. Since the Congo is rich in resources, why is there poverty in the Congo? Maybe the unstable government or just the wars happening now.

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The Rape that goes silent

A goal of students for the Congo is to make people aware the problems of the Congo. One of them is the problem of rape. It isn't safe to be a woman or girl in the Congo because rape is used as a weapon. If you are a woman or girl, you would probably feel disgusted and utterly scared for them.

Video: The Greatest Silence: Rape in The Congo

Being a girl myself, I feel disgusted by the soliders. They are supposed to help them through the tough times and yet, they are abusing the use of guns and overpowering poor women and girls. These poor women have forgotton to trust men and have happiness in the Congo. Help break the silence by spreading the word! You can also help and sponser a rape survivor in the Congo, here.

"What is a woman? The woman is a mother of a nation. He who rapes a woman, rapes an entire nation."- quote from video.

The 5 W's

As Students for the Congo, we created this website as a way to raise awareness about the current situation in the Congo. Right now in the Congo there are many different problems centered around minerals or natural resources, gender based violence, and youth in conflict.

So far our plans are to spread the world through social media, videos, pictures, and posters. We are creating a donation box to put in Stop n' Go and are hoping to make a few videos. Members of our group are going to be attending two video conferences with Students Rebuild and Global Nomads to learn more. Right now on our video page you can view the Kony 2012 video and Avril Lavigne's Knockin' on Heaven's Door.

Child soldiers in the Congo- on the left.