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.

Amisi Pele and CEJEDER

07 Jul
Amisi Pele, executive secretary of CEJEDER

Amisi Pele, executive secretary of 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 generation can make things better in the Congo.

CEJEDER has a staff of seven part-time employees, but also works with local music and theater groups to spread their message.  They have formed clubs for children in Uvira and the surrounding villages.  CEJEDER plans events with the children’s clubs, wherein is theater, music, and poetry that is designed to inform and educate children on their civil rights and responsibilities.

“These children’s clubs are the seeds we are planting to grow up to be a strong new generation that will bring peace, equality, and justice to Congo,” says Pele.

Issues that are important to Pele include preventing domestic violence and forced marriage, emphasizing the importance of education, and teaching children to stand up for themselves when their rights are being violated.

“Since adults are not always willing to intercede for children,” says Pele, “we want to kids to learn now when their rights are being violated so they will be able advocates for themselves.  Hopefully this will also carry on into adulthood.”

A difficult aspect of Pele’s work is the lack of interest in children’s rights in Congo.

“Adults that decide to work on issues that affect the youth do not themselves see the benefits, so there is a lack of motivation on the part of adults to educate children on their rights,” says Pele.

One important aspect of CEJEDER’s work is on equal rights for boys and girls. Pele believes in gender equality in education and justice, as guaranteed by the Congolese constitution.  However, in reality there is a significant gap between boys and girls in school enrollment.

“In Congo,” says Pele, “Boys are sent to school and not expected to do housework, whereas girls are expected to work at home or in the fields with their mothers.”

Gender discrimination is not limited to education.  Domestic violence and neglect is frequently directed at girls.  In addition, if a teenage girl becomes pregnant, she is often stigmatized and thrown out of the house.  However, if a boy gets a girl pregnant, he can abandon her with impunity.  Pele sees this disparity in societal norms as breaking the law.

“If there are rights for one, there must be rights for the other.  Parents need to stop gender discrimination of their children if they want to see an end to the violence and poverty that has affected us for so long,” says Pele.

Young boy in Uvira

Young boy in Uvira

Since anyone under seventeen in Eastern Congo has only known war and massacres all their life, CEJEDER’s work is very important in building civil society from the bottom up.  Children have suffered a lot from the war; male children are conscripted as child soldiers, whereas girls as young as twelve may be kidnapped and raped by soldiers or bandits.  Women and children make up a disproportionate percentage of the victims of massacres in Eastern Congo.  Many children have been left orphans by the war, and have to fend for themselves or else live with relatives that may be already burdened with their own children.  CEJEDER’s work is made all the more difficult by existing societal norms and a lack of interest in the welfare of children.  We hope that Pele and CEJEDER’s work will bear the fruit of peace and equality in the next generation.

AP Fellow Ned Meerdink and a group of Congolese children

AP Fellow Ned Meerdink and a group of Congolese children

Posted By Walter James

Posted Jul 7th, 2009


  • Saraswati

    July 7, 2009


    I wish CEJEDER the best of luck. It has always been shocking and frustrating how easily people accept treating women and children like dishrags, as if they have little if any value. Hopefully, at least one child learns and leads others to expect more out of themselves and others, by promoting gender equality and respect for all.

  • Matt Lyons

    July 8, 2009


    Very interesting stuff Walter… I hope it helps make a difference. Keep up the great work!

  • Arpan

    July 8, 2009


    This seems like awesome work you’re doing Walter, I especially love the focus on youth education. Hope your journey continues to be successful!

  • Pelelo AMISI PELE

    May 30, 2010


    Bonjour Walter,

    Juste vous dire que CEJEDER asbl continue avec ses activités de la protection de droits des enfants où nous vous demanderons de contunuer toujour à songer aux activités du CEJEDER.

    Pelelo AMISI PELE


    June 15, 2010


    Nous invitons tous: enfants,jeunes, hommes et femmes à participer à la célébration de la journée internationale de l’enfant africain demain le 16 juin 2010 que CEJEDER” centre d’encadrewment des jeunes pour le dévéloppement rural projette célébre cette journée avec les enfants à uvira centre,sange dans la plaine de la ruzizi dans notre province du sud kivu à l’est de la RDC.

    Les activites suivantes sont au programme:

    -Defiler des enfants
    -difféentes jeux des enfants
    -production de theatre, musique et dense floclorique..
    – différentes allocutions: des enfants et différentes service concernés

    Nous vous invitons tous à la célébrations.



    June 20, 2010


    Bonjour WALTER,

    Je suis heureux de vous écrire en provenance du congo pour vous diire que nous voullons vous lire bietôt pour avoir vos nouvelle de l’amerique



    July 28, 2017



    C’est avec honneur que nous vous contactons entant que l’organisation Centre d’Encadrement des Jeunes pour le Développement Rural « CEJEDER asbl », basée à l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo dans la province du Sud Kivu, créée et fondé par les jeunes natif du Territoire d’Uvira et de Fizi.

    Notre souci est de vous contacter pour solliciter un partenariat dans le domaine de la Protection et la promotion des enfants de la rue, enfants associer dans les forcés et groupes armés, enfants dits sorciers, enfants en conflit avec la loi, à la sensibiliser les différents publics à la cause de la prostitution des enfants, appui à la construction du centre d’accueil pour les enfants de la rue et ceux exploiter dans les carrières minières à Misisi et ses environs dans de Territoire de Fizi au Sud Kivu.

    En attache, nous vous envoyons le dépliant de notre institution qui vous permettrons de nous comprendre d’avantage.

    Nous vous souhaitons bonne réception et restons disponible pour d’autres questions en rapport avec notre demande.

    Bonne compréhension.

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