About Congo Story and the CAMP Fund

 

Congo Story  is a website that is privately funded, and maintained  by Jim Camp's family.  Most of the material on this site has been personally collected and written by members of our family.  However, we wish to emphasize that:

we are affiliated with the 501(c) non profit organization, FCMC Foundation, and all donations made through this site go directly to the C.A.M.P. (Congolese Advocacy Memorial Project) Fund, the effort started by Jim Camp's employer, co-workers friends and family to continue his legacy of service and empowerment in DR Congo.

We have been working closely with the FCMC Foundation to sustain and grow this fund, and we created this website as a means to enrich the donor experience and connect people with the recipients of their gifts.  Here you will find the stories, faces, and voices of the people that your donations empower to do good work; you will also see ways that recipients pay forward your generosity, and put their education and professional expertise to work for others.  Through this site we will give you many personal ways to understand to the network of lives you are touching through the C.A.M.P. Fund, and the legacy of effort and investment you carry on through your gifts.

 

About Congo Story

Who we are: Congo Story is the research and communications arm of the 501(c)(3) CAMP Fund, which supports grassroots medical and educational organizations in Eastern DR Congo.  The CAMP Fund's mission is to equip and empower local Congolese as agents of care and peaceful development in the conflict-ridden Kivu region. 

Our mission: To advance the cause of the CAMP Fund and to provide an online library of useful information and resources for anyone invested in promoting peace, stability, and sustainable development in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why are stories important?

Stories are powerful ways to connect citizens, supporters, advocates, and decision-makers to what's happening in Congo. We all need powerful stories that raise awareness about needs in the Congo—which are very big—but also ones that educate, challenge, and encourage us to grow in our understanding of and connection to Congolese people and communities.

What can I expect as a reader?

This is not a pity-mill run by professional tear-jerkers.  We use a lot of humor and art to help provide readers with a rich cultural and political context for our concerns.  Causes that only give you a sound-byte or slogan-length descriptions of suffering are oversimplified and sometimes even damaging to people's understanding of needs rather than informative.  For instance, in the course of respresenting a need for action, some causes produce images like the one below, which a nonprofit designer created to help develop awareness about issues in Africa.

This is a troubling image  for quite a few reasons.  First of all, Africa is a huge, diverse continent.  The histories, cultures, languages, etc. of Nigeria or South Africa are quite different from those in DR Congo, and the needs  of different places are important to differentiate.  Second of all, this image of Africa actually disempowers and even dehumanizes the very people its concerned for by turning them into flat symbols of suffering. There is no sense that everyday folk are trying to make a living by working, raising families and participating actively in their communities. Imagine what the USA would look like if its worst problems were represented in the same format: take out dictatorship and child soldiers but insert serial killers, child pornography, floods and terrorist threats.  A place is more than a running total of its disasters and social ills. Taking smart, cooperative action and enabling smart cooperative action are the most important ways to make a dent when problems are big or small. When a message of suffering dominantly characterizes all aspects of our understanding--the setting, the conflict, the point-of-view and the main characters--it's easy to feel numb, disconnected, overwhelmed, or discouraged from doing anything.  It creates a climate of suspicion and despair.  Congo Story is committed to a model that engages and empowers both donors and beneficiaries, creating a climate of community-mindedness and understanding.

In summary, our stories will attempt to:

  • humanize conflict and struggle,
  • make gifts of support to the CAMP Fund more personal and memorable,
  • give you specific people to root for, along with a full sense of who they are, what's happening in their lives, and what they do.
  • teach, entertain, and enrich us in ways that "sound bytes" and "pictures of suffering" cannot,
  • help us understand the context and setting of conflicts and challenges more deeply, especially when they're happening in places or  under conditions that are unfamiliar to us.

Support for Nursing Students

History of this support:  In the 1980s, Jim helped start a nursing school in a rural part of DRC (Rwanguba), where educational opportunities tend to be very limited but medical needs very pressing.  In January 2009, Jim visited the school and met with students worried about tuition inflation.  He realized the high impact of having to pay an extra $50 in a place where there are no loans available, and $50 is greater than the average monthly salary (for reference: a city policeman makes $50 a month, so imagine the budget for rural students).


How donations will be used:  This scholarship provides tuition assistance for the nursing school students in Rwanguba.  The money will be given directly to the institution and $50 applied to each student’s account, so that everyone will benefit equally.  The CAMPaign helped to fulfill Jim’s promise and provide assistance to 40 students.  We are poised to give this support again in 2010.  We hope to renew this tuition contribution annually, and keep the scholarship active and funded.  The school currently enrolls 40 students, making our donation $2000 annually.


Who benefits & how: Your support benefits underserved communities, like Fulton County.  Your gifts mean that more qualified and talented nurses will be circulating in the health system in Congo, because it:

  1. increases graduation rates and puts more nurses into circulation.  Students can focus on studying rather than working to earn extra money, which interferes with the time and focus they need. 
  2. serves as a force of equal opportunity, because the financial burden of inflation normally puts extra pressure on economically disadvantaged students, forcing them out of the system, regardless of how bright and promising they are. 
  3. invests in the whole region’s health and development.  This is the only nursing school in that area of Congo, so when you help these students, you are helping to increase the quality of health care in the whole region.  Schools must cover the costs of teaching staff, materials, and general inflation, and this leads to rising tuition.  By helping cover inflation, you are also keeping the school running.

Support for Medical Aid Work

History of this support:  The Camp family has known Bizi for over 20 years and has long witnessed his patience, generosity, technical savvy, intelligence, and commitment to peaceful relations.   Jim Camp supported Bizi by funding his medical engineering degree, and, after his graduation, advocated for him to attain a position HEAL Africa, a locally-staffed medical aid organization in Goma that primarily serves children with orthopedic

needs and women who have been victims of sexual violence.  Bizi has since been promoted to serve as the technical director.  He now heads a team that repairs and maintains almost everything at the HEAL Africa medical facility.  Bizi  and his crew must work  with specialized equipment and technology in a country that has never experienced an era of industrialization.  Parts are hard to come by, and things break often.    Supporting his position is vital because it ensures that medical personnel can do their jobs effectively.


How the donations will be used:   In support of both HEAL Africa and Bizi, Jim set up a regular contribution to HEAL Africa dedicated specifically to providing his technician position with a fair salary, donating $300 per month or $3,600 yearly.  Our aim is to maintain this salary contribution through HEAL Africa to assist Bizi and his work.


Who benefits & how:   Your support benefits  HEAL Africa, a high-traffic and high-quality medical NGO in Goma which deals daily with the effects of longstanding political instability and war; your gifts of support:

 

  1. keep Bizi's vital medical engineering/technical position  well-funded.  Since he is responsible for trouble-shooting and repairing any problems of technical maintenance that arise in the medical aid facility, both patients and medical personnel rely on his expertise and good management to keep things running smoothly.
  2. grow technical expertise and  medical equipment repair at HEAL Africa.  Bizi has recently expanded his role, which now includes teaching.  His teaching role enables others to repair equipment.  As medicine advances to rely more and more on  specialized technology, the need for technicians like Bizi is growing.
  3. improve the quality of medical care in the region.  HEAL Africa is generous with its resources, and Bizi occasionally does trouble-shooting, equipment repair, and installation for other facilities in the area looking for experts.   
  4. enable Bizi to help a variety of people in need.  The more resources Bizi has, the more he uses them to improve the lives of those around him.  Genuinely community-minded, Bizi  understands the needs around him and addresses them capably, supporting many in turn.

 

See the video below for a quick glimpse of Bizi working at a simple repair.  Here he completes an item at home on his "honey-do" list: replacing a leaky faucet. 

 

 

 

friends of the cause

Click below to meet and hear from some of our supporters, both private and professional, who have given of themselves and their resources to see this cause grow!

 

Click the speech bubbles icon on the left to read what our donors/supporters have to say about the cause and why they have given.  Note: We only publish information here that donors have given us direct permission to post.  Many have given who wish to remain anonymous or have not yet responded to our family's invitation to share.  This is just the beginning...

 

 

Click the talking person to see shout-outs to special contibutors: artists, businesses, and sundry advocates giving their professional work, products, skill, time, and effort to provide hands-on help with events and fundraising.  Browsing this area, you will find some very talented, generous folk and civic-minded businesses.

shop

Our Pittsburgh art auction and fundraising event, "heart for Congo,"  was so successful that we've decided to use this space to continue offering art in exchange for donations.   We are in the midst of setting up shop, but will soon be offering wooden carvings, African fabric bags, paintings, banana leaf cards, glass art, and more.  Check back soon to see what we have in stock, and remember us whenever you want to give a colorful gift or treat yourself, and to feel good about where your gifts went!

100% of proceeds from the sale of the items on this site will go directly to the 501 c3 C.A.M.P. Fund.


 

 

 

 

Support for Teaching Service

History of this support: In 2009, Becky and Jeff Cech (Jim’s daughter and son-in-law) visited DR Congo and worked as volunteers at HEAL Africa, assisting them with non-profit literature and media production.  Through their relationship with people at this medical aid organization, they learned about UCBC (Christian Bilingual University of Congo), an institution of higher education in DR Congo that is doing admirable work but currently underfunded and reliant on volunteers. 

When they returned to the US, Jeff and Becky contacted UCBC and applied for positions as volunteer instructors in the areas of English and Communications, where they intend to serve for the 2012-2013 school year if they can raise enough support.  They are calling this special effort “The Jitoe Project.”  In Swahili Jitoe means “give of yourself.”  It’s an expression often used in DR Congo to describe gifts that are not monetary, but instead reflect time, service, and talent.  Becky and Jeff wish to give their time, service, and professional expertise in their early careers to fill staffing needs at UCBC.

How the donations will be used:  According to a budget provided by the university (UCBC), support for two instructors will total approximately $25,000 for a year, including cost of living, travel, and books and resources for students.  This means initial payment of $10,000 for one-time preparatory fees (travel, medical insurance, training, teaching materials) to be disbursed in the spring of 2012, with the remainder paid in equal monthly installments of $1,250 over the course of twelve months.

 

Who benefits & how:  Your support benefits UCBC (Bilingual Christian University of Congo), a higher learning institution in Beni; your gifts of support:

  1. empower the Congolese to thoughtfully address the challenges around them.   The university helps produce not only thoughtful but principled leadership to help break cycles of violence, combat corruption, and swell the ranks of problem-solvers.
  2. support equal opportunity. UCBC practices non-discriminatory policies in accepting students.  Currently, there are 350 students enrolled at the campus, in a broad range of ages, and 44% of those enrolled are women; many women and mothers who would otherwise have limited opportunities to continue in higher education have found them at U.C.B.C.   
  3. encourage civic responsibility.  With its conscientious role in producing good, ethical leadership in DRC, the university actively promotes students’ involvement in local community service.
  4. increase the region’s security and stimulate its development.  UCBC is positioned to stimulate development and security in a place particularly beset by political unrest.  In the four years since the university was founded, Beni has become significantly safer and more stable, while the surrounding areas continue to be problematic, a strong indication that it plays positive role in stabilization.

 

The C.A.M.P. Fund

The FCMC Foundation typically invests in regional health and wellness initiatives, improving medical service and education in Fulton County, PA.  However, they inaugurated a special project in 2009, the C.A.M.P. (Congolese Advocacy Memorial Project) Fund, in memory of their employee, Jim Camp (pictured on right), whose private initiatives aligned with the foundation’s core values of integrity, compassion, and teamwork.  Like the FCMC Foundation, Jim concerned himself with the quality of education and medical service in underserved areas, and he ministered to these needs both in his professional and private life.  Professionally, he served in the DR Congo as a medical missionary for ten years and served the rural PA community as a nurse anesthetist for nineteen years.  Privately, he supported education and medical work in the DR Congo, sending much-needed medical equipment and giving scholarships to talented students who lacked proper support.  He did this throughout his life, even when he was working with a very low budget as a missionary.  In 2009, our family was overwhelmed by the number of people who approached us saying that he had supported them through training or funding.  Many of these folk are now in critical positions of professional expertise, leadership, and community service, and are paying the support forward by giving a boost to others in need.  This is how Jim increased the impact of good: he invested in capable people dedicated to making local improvements, who are generous with their talents and resources.  Jim actively supported such people in the DR Congo to the very end, and was in the middle of providing new support to nursing school students and sending out an anesthesia machine when he passed away suddenly in March 2009, leaving these initiatives unfunded.  Working to honor his promises and maintain the support he was giving to accomplish good work, the FCMC foundation, Jim's co-workers, friends, and family collaborated to carry on his legacy of improving medicine and education in the DR Congo. The C.A.M.P. Fund includes two areas of ongoing support,  1. nursing students, 2. medical aid technician, Bizimana Sebushari, and one special initiative 3. the Jitoe Project: a higher education teaching service project for the 2012-2013 school year.  Click support in the main menu for more information on these efforts and their particulars.

Legacy:

The  C.A.M.P. Fund grows from Jim Camp’s spirit of advocacy for the Congolese and cooperation with professionals and leaders in their communities.   We follow in his spirit of personal investment and practical improvement.  Outside of his anesthesia office in Fulton County Medical Center, there is a memorial plaque in Jim's honor quoting Galatians 6:9: "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."  Such was Jim’s faithfulness to good works in a country with persistent conflict and unrest; he made his impact in the way we intend to carry forward: by enheartening others and strengthening networks that make us all better-informed, more technically equipt, and suited to cooperatively meet the challenges that face those in most vulnerable and in need of care.


 

Mission:

The C.A.M.P Fund works to swell the ranks of problem-solvers and caregivers in the DR Congo.  Eastern Congo is riven by war and instability and requires principled and capable professionals to address emergency needs while helping to break the cycles of violence and corruption that feed those emergencies in the first place.  We are investing in Congolese people and organizations who are models of growth and sustainable development, and who help improve health and wellness of both the community and the systems that serve and support it.  We partner with reputable organizations and institutions that have a track record of positive community involvement and impact: HEAL Africa, ITM Nursing School, and  UCBC (Bilingual Christian University of Congo)--all organizations that show promise, accountability,  innovation, and effectiveness in the fields of education and/or medicine.

Jim Camp

 

Here Jim talks about the family history in DR Congo.

1960-Now (Independence era)

Watch the video below for a thought-provoking and informative look into what's been happening in the DRC since independence in 1960.