At the official launch of our new graphic novel series AFRICA IN IMAGES, I had a chance to meet face to face with all the people who worked together to create the first book on the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Roza, or the Courage to Choose Life.
During the launch event I made notes in the empty space around the intense and powerful images on my very first copy of the graphic novel as I listened to our riveting guests. Sister Marie-Bernard Alima, from the Justice and Peace Episcopal Commission of the DRC and Most Rev. Nicolas Djomo, President of the Conference of Bishops of the DRC, spoke powerfully about their work bringing peace to their country.
One of the key moments that stimulated this whole comic project began with a meeting between Soeur Marie Bernard and young people at the College de l’Ascension, where the students wanted to develop something to mobilize people around what was going on. It all came from a desire to empower people, to encourage each other and collaborate on a project of solidarity, with a focus on respecting the initiatives of the people of the DRC and the work of the Commission. Hence the graphic novel-style education campaigns began, highlighting the impact of the violence, but more importantly, the initiatives and empowerment of the Congolese people.
With 60 million Catholics in the Congo, the Church is working full-time to restore human dignity – to renew a respect for the dignity of each person, and to live out this mutual respect. They shared with us their communitarian approach to reconciliation, touching on the physical, moral and spiritual needs of the people. Sister Marie Bernard told us about how the programs allow people who have suffered, and are so discouraged, to be able to stand up again and take up life and have courage.
The Justice and Peace Commission wants all of us to join them in their work of evangelization – to preach the gospel of human dignity. The Commission believes strongly that those who have suffered can and will reflect upon their situation and read their context: where we are, what happened, what can we do. This analysis and reflection work is critical to rebuilding confidence and bringing forth new leadership = confidence gives courage. The graphic novels speaks to the courage of women to rebuild, to lead their families when their men are knocked down. The Congolese women are saying “Get up, Come on, We can do this, Together we are strong”!
For Sister Marie Bernard the most inspiring thing she has experienced is this link between confidence and courage. How? Again and again Sister Marie Bernard has met a woman who doesn’t know how to read, and through learning this important skill she finds her voice and gains confidence. This woman then takes her new capacity to the next level and leads her community to humanize their society during and after the dehumanizing experiences of war. From hell and back – this is the power of believing in the dignity of the person.
Join us in supporting the Justice and Peace Commission of the Congo with Development and Peace. Stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have the Courage to Choose Life!
by Genevieve Gallant
Read the comic: http://youth.devp.org/2011/10/urgent-action-the-congo/
The worst drought to impact the Horn of Africa in 60 years has put an estimated 10 million people at risk of severe food shortages and famine. The Caritas network is making preparations to support those in the most need and DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is accepting donations to go towards relief in the region.
Here are some facts on the current situation and info on what Development and Peace, with Caritas Internationalis and YOUR help, are able to do to respond to food crises that have afflicted vulnerable communities.
Drought in the Horn of Africa
What is the situation in the Horn of Africa?
The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in the region in 60 years. According to the United Nations, there are currently 11.6 million people who are affected by this drought and in need of humanitarian assistance. The number of people affected per country is as follows:
• Ethiopia: 4.5 million people
• Kenya: 2.4 million people
• Somalia: 3.7 million people
• Djibouti: 146,600 people
Famine has been declared in two parts of Somalia and the United Nations is warning that other parts of the country may soon be in the same situation.
As a consequence, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, who are coping with food and water shortages in many communities, are experiencing a dramatic influx of refugees coming from Somalia. An estimated 1,500-2,000 Somalis are crossing the borders into Kenya and Ethiopia every day in need of aid.
The health of the populations in all affected countries is excessively precarious and children are most vulnerable. In some areas, 25% of children are suffering from malnutrition, which can have lifelong health impacts. The situation could deteriorate further if expected rains in October and November are insufficient.
Why does the region keep being affected by food crises?
The Horn of Africa is a dry arid region that is susceptible to drought conditions. Pastoralist and nomad populations have long developed ways to cope through poor rainy seasons, however, in recent times, several factors have made it increasingly difficult for communities to pass through lean periods. Changes in climate, conflict, rising food costs and competition over diminishing resources have all exacerbated the situation and contributed to the crisis we see today. To learn more, read our Backgrounder.
What is DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE doing?
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has a long history in the region, consistently responding to food crises affecting the most vulnerable communities for over 35 years. The symptoms of this crisis had already begun to reveal themselves as far back as two years ago and DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE put in place projects to respond to growing needs in Ethiopia and Somaliland, a sovereign region in Northeast Somalia, as early as 2009. These projects helped communities to gain better access to food and water. To learn more, visit this page.
Currently, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACEis working in collaboration with Caritas Kenya, Caritas Ethiopia and Caritas Somalia, which have all mobilized to provide aid and relief. Emergency interventions needed to save the lives and livelihoods of people, include the following:
•Supplementary food distribution to vulnerable groups, including infants, pregnant and nursing mothers, the sick and the elderly;
•Supplementary feeding for severely malnourished children;
•Food distribution to other affected people under a food for work/food for assets/vouchers system;
•Water and sanitation assistance such as providing storage facilities, drilling of boreholes for water extraction, scooping of water dams/pans, supply of fuel and generator spare parts for existing boreholes, and maintenance of broken water systems;
•Emergency medical supplies to health units;
•Managing livestock destocking (commercial sale and slaughter) and restocking, water, feed, and veterinary services;
•Seed distribution for short crops.
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and its Caritas partners always try to reach groups that are most vulnerable. In this case, relief interventions will aim to reach the elderly, children under 5 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers, people living with a long term illness and refugees who have not reached camps.
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE also expects that some long-term projects will be required to help communities re-launch their agricultural practices and to put in place preventative measures and long-term sustainable development projects so that communities can be in a better position to cope with drought conditions in the future.
Is Development and Peace providing aid in Somalia?
It is very difficult for humanitarian agencies to intervene in Somalia as the government there has forbidden most from operating in the country. Caritas Somalia is unable to operate directly in the country, however, it is intervening through traditional local partners with food distribution and it also plans to distribute tents. Although Caritas Somalia’s humanitarian interventions cannot be easily coordinated, they will continue to intervene where they can. In addition, other Caritas partners are responding in Somalia and assessing the needs of Somalis who have crossed the borders into Ethiopia and Kenya. Are donations made to Development and Peace being matched by the government?
Yes, donations that are made by individuals to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE between July 6th and September 16th, 2011 for the drought in the Horn of Africa will be matched by the Canadian Government. Please note that the matched funds go into a common fund that is managed by the Canadian International Development Agency. The government then distributes the funds based on proposals submitted by eligible organizations responding to the crisis, including DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, and which meet established criteria.
What are DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE’s administrative fees?
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE applies an administrative fee of 15% against donations made by the Canadian public for emergencies. This is needed to cover associated financial and administrative costs along with the cost of developing and managing emergency relief programs. This 15% fee is divided as follows:
5% is needed to cover extra work generated by the emergency, such as accounting procedures, registration of donations, answering phones, fundraising, sending receipts, etc.
10% is allocated directly to the costs of managing emergency relief programs, employing staff, to offset operational costs, for travel, communications, etc.
How can I donate?
Donations can be made by telephone (1-888-234-8533), on our website: www.devp.org, or by a cheque made out to
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and indicating Horn of Africa Drought, and sent to: DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. West. 3rd Floor, Montreal, QC, H3G 1T7
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), violence has become a way of life. Violence against women is out of control and rape has become a weapon of war.
In many instances, armed men will overrun a village, attack the inhabitants, rape the women, destroy crops and leave in their wake a path of terror and destruction.
For those who manage to escape, they must return to their villages in the aftermath and try to heal from trauma and re-build their communities with a culture of peace.
This is the story told in ournew graphic novel: ROZA or the Courage to Choose Life, written and illustrated by Congolese artist Séraphin Kajibwami and published by Development and Peace in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The graphic novel includes an overview of the issues affecting this resource-rich country.
The graphic novel will be launched on Tuesday, April 5th with special guests Sister Marie-Bernard Alima, the secretary general of the Justice and Peace Episcopal Commission of the DRC and Most Rev. Nicolas Djomo, President of the Conference of Bishops of the DRC, both of whom are working to bring peace to their country.
Development and Peace supports several projects in the DRC to strengthen democracy, empower women, ensure fair control of natural resources and establish peace in the country.
Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
Maison de l’Afrique, 6256 Henri-Julien St.
Watch for this graphic novel to be distributed in your region this fall!
Interested? Contact Genevieve Gallant, Youth Programs at Development and Peace: firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-494-1401 ext 230
Political turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire leads to humanitarian crisis: Development and Peace supporting aid – more needed
The deteriorating political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire has left over 350,000 people displaced within the country with little access to food or health services. If tensions and violence continue to rise the humanitarian situation could worsen as more flee with little hope of returning to their homes in the near future.
Development and Peace is responding with a contribution of $50,000 towards emergency relief, being organized by local agency Caritas Côte d’Ivoire. Aid is being provided to the displaced and host families, and includes the distribution of food, hygiene kits, blankets and other household items, as well as health services such as screening children for malnutrition, improved access to clean water, and ensuring the safety of those displaced.
Côte d’Ivoire has been in a political crisis since 2002, when electoral candidate Alassane Ouattara was excluded from elections. Divisions within the country led to conflict and the country in fact split in two. Scheduled elections for 2005 were postponed repeatedly and finally took place in October 2010. However, the in-office president Laurent Gbagbo refused to admit defeat to Ouattara, which plunged the country into turmoil.
Ongoing violence has forced thousands to flee their homes, either crossing into neighbouring countries or moving to other regions of Côte d’Ivoire. It is estimated that the number of internally displaced people has increased five-fold in as little as two weeks, placing strains on host families and leaving people vulnerable to hunger and disease.
“A critical humanitarian situation is unfolding in Côte d’Ivoire and it can’t be forgotten. People are living in fear and need help,” says Barbara Trachsel, Emergency Programs Officer at Development and Peace.
Development and Peaceis encouraging Canadians to further help with this emergency response by making a donation to Development and Peace by telephone (1 888 664-3387), online or by sending a cheque made out to Development and Peace and indicating Côte d’Ivoire Crisis and sending it to:
Development and Peace
1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. West. 3rd Floor,
Montreal QC H3G 1T7
We are also currently leading its annual Share Lent fundraising campaign. 10% of donations go towards an emergency relief fund, which allows Development and Peace to respond immediately to humanitarian crises in the Global South, especially those which risk being overlooked or forgotten, such as this one. By supporting Share Lent, you help Development and Peace respond throughout to year to situations like the one in Côte d’Ivoire.
A roof over one’s head is an essential right as stipulated under article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The right to housing
In Makoko, one of Lagos’ poorest neighbourhoods, thousands of people are crammed into precarious dwellings built on stilts.
Furthermore, over 3,000 families have been violently evicted from their neighbourhoods, where some have lived for at least 50 years. Without warning, they lost everything.
So under the pretext of ridding Lagos of petty delinquents and unhealthy areas, hundreds of thousands of families living in shantytowns have been thrown out and their lives torn apart.
As a result, people who have practically nothing have been left even more destitute.Yet shouldn’t urban development benefit the people already living there?
“Forced evictions should be illegal. The city of Lagos needs to be developed, but it can’t be done by demolishing schools, churches, homes and the lives of penniless people”, explains Félix Morka, Executive Director of the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC).
SERAC not only defends the rights of evicted people, but works with them to develop positive sustainable development projects. For instance, a housing co-op is in the works in Lagos. A nearby brick factory will use recycled materials, thereby reducing housing construction costs while creating jobs for young people.
Yet much can be achieved. That’s where DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, partnering with other like-minded organizations, steps in. For example, in Paraguay, SERPAJ encourages citizen participation in the poorest parts. In Philippines, UPA offers training and documentation on demolition projects that affect vulnerable communities.In Brazil, MAB holds training and educational activities.
Donate today so that everyone may have a decent home, or lead a THINKfast at your school or parish, or start a creative online fundraising activity this Share Lent (coming soon)!