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.