Meerdink (DR Congo)


Ned Meerdink (DR Congo)

Ned Meerdink (Sos Femmes en Danger – SOSFED): Ned earned his Bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied humanitarian work in Central and Eastern Africa. After graduation, NED worked for human rights NGOs in the US and Congo. They included Mutuelle Jeunesse Active (MJA) in Sud Kivu. AP deployed Ned to Uvira, in South Kivu, in September 2008 to work with civil society organizations including Tunza Mazingira, Arche d’Alliance, and SOS Femmes en Danger. Ned launched the partnership between SOSFED and AP in 2009.



31 Oct

Rape in Congo: Not just a question of conflict

A recent report issued by the American Medical Association (AMA) has had me and SOS FED’s staff thinking about some possibly unexploited “entry points” in the fight against sexual violence in Congo. The AMA report revealed that 74% of reported rapes in the Kivus and Ituri Province in 2009 occurred during active combat. This is […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 31, 2010

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16 Sep

Water, Food, and Fuel

When I think about all of the lessons I have learned in three years in Congo, one comes to mind as the most important of them all: The basics of life are 1) difficult to come by and 2) never to be taken for granted. Across the world, people struggle for water, food, and fuel, […]

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Posted Sep 16, 2010

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25 Aug

Walikale: July 30-August 2

Anyone doubting the gravity of the situation women in eastern Congo face and the constant threat of sexual violence that exists throughout this region ought to take a glance at the recent happenings in and around a mining town called Walikale. As both the New York Times and the UN Office for the Coordination of […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Aug 25, 2010

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07 Aug

Mboko Meeting Recap

I recently arrived back in Bujumbura after a productive, albeit dusty and tiring, séjour in Mboko village, South Kivu, Congo. The SOS FED field team, having come together from all corners of Fizi Territory, had some interesting things to share, and really brought me up to speed on the progress of the current campaign of […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Aug 07, 2010

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27 Jul

South Kivu Travel Agency

This evening, I returned home from my most recent series of planning meetings with AP’s DRC partner, SOS Femmes en Danger (SOS FED). This time, our meetings were logistical in nature, as we are currently organizing a large meeting/training session/organizational update for the SOS FED staff and have to figure out how exactly to get […]

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Posted Jul 27, 2010

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12 Jul

Back to work in Congo & Sange village

I arrived last week to Uvira, South Kivu, in order to participate in a marathon of surprisingly exhausting meetings with SOS FED field workers concerning the current rape prevention program they have partnered with AP on. The journey to Congo from Bujumbura was much the usual-annoying slow and marred with checkpoints. However, a shocking event […]

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Posted Jul 12, 2010

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05 Jul

It’s Good to be Back in Great Lakes Africa

After an absence that ran far too long, I am happy to be back in Bujumbura, Burundi en route to Congo. I arrived just in time to see the result of the Burundian ‘election’—there was only one candidate.  Much to the surprise of international observers, the US Department of State, and myself, the only candidate […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jul 05, 2010

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19 Sep

Uvira News Flash

[Rather than write three separate entries concerning three recent items of note in Uvira, I decided to combine them for the sake of ease in posting considering an increasingly rare internet connection as of late.] First, thanks to Vesta Cooperative House in East Lansing, Michigan for ‘partying with a purpose’ on behalf of an AP […]

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Posted Sep 19, 2009

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02 Sep

School is around the corner, but where are the uniforms?

One of the more frustrating aspects of working in the regions of Congo currently under the yoke of Kimya II operations is the stopping of programs already in place due to declining security and risky travel situations. Admittedly, this is a paltry inconvenience when compared with the problems facing civilians all too often directly in […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Sep 02, 2009

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24 Jul

Arche d’Alliance Field Visit: Lubarika and the Haut Plateau

Yesterday, I was traveling to Lubarika, a small village on Uvira’s Haut Plateau. The Haut Plateau is a mountainous region of South Kivu which begins just east of Bukavu (somewhere near Shabunda) and flows south into Fizi Territory. The villages of the Haut Plateau surrounding Uvira have recently been the site of large movements of […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jul 24, 2009

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20 Jul

Shhhhhhhh…

Where in the world is the FDLR? That seems to be the question going around Uvira recently, as the current government military operation called Kimya II (which means something like ‘quiet’ or ‘invisible’ in Swahili) is taking hold in South Kivu. Kimya II is being conducted against the usual suspects-the Rwandan FDLR rebels, who have […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jul 20, 2009

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17 Jul

Development Graveyard

Of all the empty promises which led to the 2006 election of current president Joseph Kabila, the most potent was probably his guarantee of establishing a network of paved roads (the first in Eastern Congo) from Ituri Province down towards Katanga Province. It is no secret at all the differences an established system of navigable […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jul 17, 2009

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07 Jul

Are you paranoid or do I just look suspicious

My border crossings in Congo have become rather intricate afffairs with the complexity of the process increasing in proportion to the amount of time spent in Congo. I really had not realized exactly how bizarre this seemingly simple (and ‘official’) process had become until this last week, when three very typical border crossings led to […]

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Posted Jul 07, 2009

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29 Jun

Article: UN-backed militia terrorizing civlians

As I have been writing recently about the Mai-Mai militias in North and South Kivu, I wanted to offer up this article from the Irish Times speaking about the links between MONUC, the UN peacekeeping operation in Congo, and this militia, which is famous for their arbitrary attacks, ‘side-changing,’ and their medication taken to deflect […]

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Posted Jun 29, 2009

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29 Jun

L’indépendance, ce n’est pas assez

Tomorrow is the yearly independence celebration across Congo, commemorating the end of Belgian rule and the beginning of what would reveal itself to be a rather doomed state. Belgian influence of course did not end; everything from the national educational system (or what is left of it) to the decaying train tracks offer modern-day reminders […]

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Posted Jun 29, 2009

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22 Jun

What is a ‘Noyaux de Paix’: Makobola Field Visit with Arche d’Alliance

This last Wednesday, I was fortunate to visit one of Arche d’Alliance’s ongoing programs in Makobola, which is a village forming the border between Uvira Territory and Fizi Territory in South Kivu. The program is called ‘Le Noyaux de Paix’ and the goal is assembling villagers into small committees in areas lacking security, so that […]

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Posted Jun 22, 2009

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22 Jun

Remembering Soweto 1976

This last Tuesday, the 16th of June, communities across sub-Saharan Africa remembered the massacres of Soweto township children by the South African Apartheid regime in 1976. On this annual day of remembrance, organizations in Uvira dedicated to the protection of Congolese children organized various events to highlight the precarious position of children in eastern Congo. […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jun 22, 2009

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15 Jun

New Camps, Same Old Story

A walk through Uvira’s most heavily militarized zone (not counting rebel/Mai-Mai areas) directly south of my home reveals a wealth of information concerning the present relationship between civilians across Uvira and the FARDC, the Congolese military. This weekend, I took advantage of the recent calm throughout Uvira to visit the militarized zone and came away […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jun 15, 2009

1
13 May

Tunza Mazingira Update

*Sorry for the delay in updating the blog if you’ve been following it, but I was out of town visiting my sister in Malawi. Rosamond et al, thanks for the hospitality and I hope all is well in Lilongwe.* I last wrote about my friend Clément a few months ago, so I wanted to give […]

Posted By Admin

Posted May 13, 2009

4
28 Mar

The Roi du Zaïre Comes to the East

In Congo, there is nothing like a presidential visit to give evidence as to why things here just are not working right now. This last week, people in Uvira began preparing for the visit of Joseph Kabila, the president of Congo. Kabila’s father Laurent was president, but assassinated in 2001, and Joseph took office directly […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Mar 28, 2009

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05 Mar

Association des Femmes des Medias du Sud Kivu: Supporting Women Journalists in Congo

For the last three days, I have been working in outside of Bukavu (north of Uvira) with a local organization called the Association des Femmes des Medias du Sud Kivu (AFEM-SK), which works to develop the next generation of female journalists in Congo, offering young women practical field experience and access to the media which […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Mar 05, 2009

1
02 Mar

SOS Femmes en Danger Field Visit: February 23-27

This last week, I have been in Fizi Territory, which is the province directly south of Uvira, where I am now living. Although Fizi is really only about 200km (about 125 miles) from Uvira, Congo never fails to turn what should be a relatively simple trip into something altogether different. Our original plan was to […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Mar 02, 2009

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27 Feb

Centre d’Ecadrement des Jeunes pour le Developpment Rurale (CEJEDR): Protecting the Rights of Congolese Children

Visit Congo for even a day, and you will see that one of the dominant problems in Congolese communities is the abuse of children by those in positions of authority. Soldiers, local officials and administrators, police, and teachers, all employed by the state, are ideally people children here can trust or appeal to for help […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Feb 27, 2009

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13 Feb

Marceline Kongolo-Bise: 2009 Vital Voices Fern Holland Award honoree

After weeks of nervous waiting, I recently got the good news that a colleague of mine here in Uvira, Marceline, has been selected by the Washington DC NGO Vital Voices to be honored this March at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts for the work she has done with rape victims and threatened women in […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Feb 13, 2009

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27 Dec

1 Month M.I.A.

The last month has been busy as usual, and I was actually fortunate enough to work with other AP projects and partner organizations in northern Uganda and eastern Congo. However, moving around kept me from updating this blog on any regular basis, which is why there has been a month-long gap in entries. Don’t let […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Dec 27, 2008

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04 Nov

“In Congo, a Little Fighting Brings a Lot of Fear”-NY Times, Nov 2 2008

“When Congo shakes, Africa trembles.” If you are interested in reading more about Congo’s “linchpin” role in African regional stability, the NY TIMES published a really interesting article today. The first sentence of this article (quoted above) summarizes its main theme. The article describes in some detail the volatility of the Great Lakes region, in […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Nov 04, 2008

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02 Nov

Voices from the Kivus

Given the history of eastern Congo, it is not surprising that Congolese are overwhelmingly honest and frank about their lives, their fears, and how they have managed to survive over a decade in what Ban Ki Moon called yesterday, “…a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic dimensions.” Recently, my friends and I in Uvira have been talking […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Nov 02, 2008

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31 Oct

Goma updates illustrate trends in eastern Congo

The red oval represents the amount of territory in eastern Congo which is threatened should Goma fall to the CNDP, being directly in the line of the current CNDP rebel advance. Traditionally, Goma, Bukavu, and Uvira (boldface) have been linked together in that when one city falls, so follows the others. Map courtesy of MONUC, […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 31, 2008

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29 Oct

Goma, CNDP rebels, and an tense few days for all of eastern Congo

Speaking with my friend Celestin tonight, I could tell despite the static-filled connection that his normally humorous and easy-going disposition had turned to an anxious and panicked one, as he is unfortunately waiting out the current rebel advance on Goma, which is the provincial capital of North Kivu province, locked in his house with his […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 29, 2008

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23 Oct

GENARDIS: Support for Rural Women in South Kivu

I wanted to write a quick word about one of Arche d’Alliance’s programs which I have just recently begun to learn a little more about. In attempting to support the most vulnerable populations in Congo, Arche d’Alliance has done well to address the plight of the rural woman here through the GENARDIS program. Essentially, GENARDIS […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 23, 2008

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20 Oct

Pole Sana FC Kabimba

Today (I am writing this Sunday, October 19) the MJA kids had a match against FC Kabimba, which is a village about 10 km away from our center in Uvira. Interestingly, because of the roads which we use to arrive there (we all jam in one truck), it takes about an hour or so to […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 20, 2008

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18 Oct

Journee Mondiale du Refus de la Misere 2008

As I left Congo last January, the thoughts of everyone across North and South Kivu were centered on the developments of the cease-fire arrangements being made in Goma at the time between twenty-two armed groups involved in the conflict. The conference had two overarching goals. First, those invited committed to a cease-fire, “zones of separation”, […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 18, 2008

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14 Oct

“Tunza Mazingira: A Grassroots Conservation Movement in Eastern Congo”

The view from one house built in the Uvira mountains. In North and South Kivu, all local humanitarian organizations and NGOs share at least one major characteristic: a lack of sufficient funding. There is a real wealth of ideas among local organizations and NGOs about how best to increase peace in Congo and aid the […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Oct 14, 2008

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25 Sep

Statistics Rarely Tell the Whole Story

In the development and humanitarian aid fields, statistics can be a rather depressing reminder of how “off-track” a given region or community has become in reference to other areas of the world. Nowhere is this more true than in the multitude of reports from aid and research groups reporting on Eastern Congo. Recent reports (2007/08) […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Sep 25, 2008

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12 Sep

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”: My First Week Back in Uvira/South Kivu, Congo (September 5-12)

I am very excited to be back in Uvira again, and am quickly getting acclimated all over again to some of the aspects of South Kivu that make it such an odd/frustrating place to work. I figured the best way to share some of these realities with those who will be reading my entries from […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Sep 12, 2008

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