Walter James (DR Congo)


Walter James

Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.



07 Oct

Mwacha Malisho: Living by example

Mwacha Malisho Felix is 38 years old and the father of 7 children.  He is the mwami of Lo’Ochyo II, a quartier of Mboko.  He has been mwami since 1995, when he succeeded his grandfather.  I interviewed Mwacha outside of his home on a hill overlooking Lake Tanganyika.  As we spoke, we were soon surrounded […]

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Posted Oct 07, 2011

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13 Feb

Down in Fizi

On Februry 7th, Amisi, Marceline, and myself made our first official field visit down into Fizi Territory, visiting the SOS FED center in Mboko and visiting with the managers of the SOS FED Kikonde center. We had to meet Sangho and Mimmy, the Kikonde center managers, in the town of Baraka, as the road to […]

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Posted Feb 13, 2011

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16 Sep

SOS Femmes en Danger

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjsVVmQj7eQ httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgohI6_Adgs&feature=channel

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Posted Sep 16, 2009

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19 Aug

Marceline Kongolo: ‘We just want women’s lives to be better’

Meet Marceline Kongolo.  Marceline is the founder and executive secretary of SOS Femmes en Danger, a grassroots organization that seeks to improve the situation of women in Eastern Congo through education and assistance.  SOS Femmes en Danger primarily works in Fizi Territory, where women are routinely abducted and subjected to sexual violence by numerous armed […]

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Posted Aug 19, 2009

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19 Aug

Mariamu “Marie” Bashishibe: Fearless woman in a fearful time

Meet Mariamu “Marie” Bashishibe.  Marie is the site director of the SOS Femmes en Danger reception center in Mboko, Fizi Territory.  This reception center shelters up to 30 women who are victims of sexual violence, domestic abuse, and marginalization by the community.  Many of the women at the center were abducted and raped by one […]

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Posted Aug 19, 2009

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19 Aug

Rose Shukurami: Details in the African tableau

Songolo asked Rose if she wanted to return to Rwanda.  Rose shook her head no.  This may seem strange, since Rose is ethnic Rwandan, and being married to the FDLR she is hardly a member of accepted society in the Congo.  However, once you look at the bigger geopolitical and historical picture, it makes a […]

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Posted Aug 19, 2009

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19 Aug

Rose Shukurami: Caught in the gap

Rose Shukurami is a woman with striking cheekbones, challenging eyes, a jagged scar on her temple, and a hoarse whisper for a voice.  Ordinarily, she would seem like any other Banyarwandan-Congolese woman, but there is something different about Rose: her husband is a member of the FDLR.  Rose, her daughter Julienne, and her daughter’s two […]

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Posted Aug 19, 2009

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04 Aug

Cows and Peace: Rodrigue Rukumbuzi

Meet Rodrigue Rukumbuzi.  Rodrigue is an animateur/inqueteur for Arche d’Alliance.  He works around the town of Bijombo, deep in the Haut Plateau.  A trip from Uvira to Bijombo takes two days, and half of the journey must be taken on foot, since after a certain point there are no roads suitable for vehicles.  I was […]

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Posted Aug 04, 2009

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03 Aug

Monitoring II: ‘Our soldiers are not professionals’

After visiting the FARDC prison in Luvungi, I interviewed Arche inqueteur Juvernal Twaibu on what he had observed in the Luvungi jail and elsewhere.  Juvernal said that the jail in Luvungi was in “flagrant violation of its prisoners’ rights”.  Sanitation was bad, the prisoners had a very hard time getting food, wounded prisoners were refused […]

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Posted Aug 03, 2009

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03 Aug

Monitoring I: Arche d’Alliance in the war zone

Kimya-2 continues to burn up the Congolese countryside along the Haut Plateau, and lots of civilians are caught in the middle of the crossfire.  Thus, Arche d’Alliance is performing monitoring work in the war zone.  This includes following the IDP situation, inspecting jails to ensure humane treatment of prisoners, advocating for civilians who have been […]

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Posted Aug 03, 2009

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03 Aug

Visit to SOS Femmes en Danger in Mboko

SOS Femmes en Dangers (SOS FED) is a local organization in South Kivu whose mission is to help women who have been victims of sexual violence.  On July 29th Ned and I had the opportunity to visit SOS FED’s refuge center in Mboko, deep in Fizi Territory.  The center is for women who have been […]

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Posted Aug 03, 2009

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28 Jul

Expression without violence: Iledephonse Masumbuko Sangolo

Meet Ildephonse Masumbuko Sangolo.  Mr. Sangolo is the field supervisor for Arche d’Alliance, an NGO based in Uvira that focuses on human rights and building civil society in Eastern Congo.  It is Sangolo’s job to supervise the inqueteurs, or field monitors, in monitoring the human rights situation in remote parts of Uvira and Fizi.  The […]

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Posted Jul 28, 2009

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24 Jul

Part III: Living like a refugee is not easy

During our visit to Lubarika, the inqueteurs of Arche d’Alliance interviewed several refugees.  Among them were two village women; we will call them Rehema and Furaha. Rehema’s household consists of two adult men, three adult women, and numerous children.  When Rehema’s family started hearing gunshots in their village of Buhembe, they decided to move the […]

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Posted Jul 24, 2009

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24 Jul

Part II: Lubarika

On July 21st, I traveled with a team from Arche d’Alliance to the village of Lubarika to observe and report on the refugee situation there.  The dirt road to Lubarika splits off from the road and travels through steamy thickets and into jagged hills that resemble dragon’s teeth.  We pass soldiers in sweat-stained uniforms carrying […]

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Posted Jul 24, 2009

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24 Jul

Part I: Temperature Rising

For a little over a week now the FDLR has been on the offensive across Uvira territory.  The first incident we heard about in Uvira town was an attack on a village called Lumera, about an hour drive north. The FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda) is a Hutu rebel group made up of […]

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Posted Jul 24, 2009

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17 Jul

Zawadi’s story

When I visited the Luvungi CMC, I had the opportunity to observe the proceedings of a case brought before the local mediation group.  The details of the case highlight some of the problems facing marginalized peoples in Eastern Congo. A young widow brought the dispute in question to the CMC; we will call her Zawadi.  […]

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Posted Jul 17, 2009

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17 Jul

The CMC: Justice and Peace in rural Congo

As many refugees stream back to their home territories in Congo since the (tentative) end of major hostilities, there is a great need for legal structures that will help returning families re-integrate and repatriate.  Since the judicial system is slow and overburdened, it is very difficult for repatriating refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to […]

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Posted Jul 17, 2009

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17 Jul

You’ll get your day in court

Arche d’Alliance is an NGO based in Uvira, Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Arche d’Alliance’s work focuses on human rights and rebuilding civil society, and it has a legal department that focuses on advocacy for people marginalized by the effects of armed conflict. Since the war in Eastern Congo has all but evaporated civil society […]

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Posted Jul 17, 2009

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09 Jul

Men with guns

Ok, I am going to switch into Dwight Schrute mode here for a second… FACT: There are lots of soldiers here in North and South Kivu. FACT: Unless I want to pay a hefty bribe or get the giblets beaten out of me, I do not take pictures of soldiers. However, the BBC has an […]

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Posted Jul 09, 2009

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07 Jul

Amisi Pele and CEJEDER

Meet Amisi Pele.  Pele is the executive secretary for CEJEDER, a local development organization that works specifically with children.  CEJEDER uses music, theater, poetry, and seminars to educate kids on their rights and their responsibilities. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” says Pele, “so we are focusing on educating children so that tomorrow’s […]

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Posted Jul 07, 2009

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01 Jul

Bon Appetit!

Tonight, we are preparing potatoes with peanut sauce for supper. Ned, Isidord, and I eat about one hot meal a day. Usually, we have bugali, or fufu, a thick doughy paste made from manioc flour. The bugali is served with a sauce made from whatever vegetables are available, such as tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Sometimes […]

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Posted Jul 01, 2009

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01 Jul

Moving the mountain

Tous les gens sont terrorizés (All the people are terrorized) This is what the reggae singer is screaming through Radio France International. I am writing this as my neighbors and I settle in for the night. You are not supposed to go out at night; you should not go to the bar. If you go […]

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Posted Jul 01, 2009

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01 Jul

Notes from Bukavu

Ned and I recently returned from a short trip to Bukavu, trying to secure living arrangements and such for an Advocacy Project fellow that will be working there this coming month.  Bukavu is a larger city north of Uvira that sits on Lake Kivu.  There is but one good way to get from Uvira to […]

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Posted Jul 01, 2009

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22 Jun

Arche d’Alliance in Makobola: civic education and conflict transformation

Mr. Sangolo teaches civic participation to an eager crowd in Makobola Makobola is a village forming the border between the territories of Uvira and Fizi.  It has often been a hotspot for the war in the Great Lakes Region over the last fifteen years.  On March 15, 1998, the RCD (a group of Banyamulenge rebels) […]

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Posted Jun 22, 2009

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15 Jun

Leya: The Ballad of a Village Maiden

Meet Leya.  Leya is sixteen years old.  Leya is one of 8 children.  Her father was killed by bandits in his own home; Leya, her mother, and her siblings barely escaped with their lives.  Leya’s mother has remarried, since life for a single woman with children is extremely difficult.  Leya works all day in her […]

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Posted Jun 15, 2009

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11 Jun

La Corruption

One of the things required of newcomers in Uvira is meeting with the ANR, the office of local intelligence, a relic of Mobutu’s paranoia.  The office for our quartier is not too far from where we live, so Ned, Isidord, Pascal (my neighbor), and I weaved our way to the crumbling brick building.  The secretary […]

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Posted Jun 11, 2009

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11 Jun

Lupongo ya Matete

So, here I am.            On my 25 hour journey (4 airplanes, 1 four hour delay in Nairobi, and lots of chewing gum), I read an excellent book called The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a very comprehensive political history […]

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Posted Jun 11, 2009

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10 May

Walter goes to Congo

Since I was a kid I have been fascinated with the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I grew up knowing it as Zaire, the country with deep jungles, turbid rivers, gorillas, mokele-mbembe, and a certain dictator with a distinctive leopard-print toque.  When I began my quest as an agent for change in college, the DRC was […]

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Posted May 10, 2009

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