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.

Start your engines

19 Apr

Great news:

SOS FED, The Advocacy Project, and ifa-Zivik are entering into the next phase of the 2011 project. Here are some of the aspects that we have begun working on:

-Arche d’Alliance will be providing human rights and monitoring training for our field staff. Our field staff have already lived and breathed the war of the past 17 years, but through this training they will hopefully become more effective advocates in an area that is pretty much a human rights Chernobyl. In addition, our more formally trained field staff will be able to pass on their knowledge to the beneficiaries, who in turn can be better advocates in their own communities.

-The first stage of a briquette press is underway. The briquette press is a miraculous mechanical marvel that transforms everyday garbage (banana peels, corncobs, rice husks, etc) into little trash biscuits that are used as an alternative fuel source. How can such a miraculous marvelous machine work? Well, the training video that Ned Meerdink and I made for the briquette press is still on the Advocacy Project YouTube page somewhere at

-Clean potable water is a constant problem in Fizi Territory, so SOS FED will be installing pumps near the two centers in Kikonde and Mboko. The issue of water is also important to the general wellbeing of women in the community, encompassing everything from health to security. The traditional division of labor in the Congo (and in most of Africa) dictates that women are responsible for collecting water for the household, and thus water scarcity issues disproportionately affect women. A woman who travels alone for 5 hours to collect a bidon of water may risk being attacked in the jungle. In addition, carrying 10 liters or more of water on one’s head for great distances can greatly impact a person’s health and longevity.

It will take time to accomplish all of these goals, but the important thing is that we are finally giving it some legs. Stay tuned for more.

Quick update on the Kikoze situation: the MONUSCO mission scheduled for last week was delayed because one of the MONUSCO Uvira staff members was killed in the terrible MONUSCO plane crash a few weeks back. Currently, they are supposed to be up in the Haut Plateau, and they plan to pay a visit to the local FARDC commander in Minembwe. For the record, the FARDC commander so far denies that his troops raped any women in/around Kikoze. However, monitors from Arche d’Alliance have made several trips up to the Kikoze area since the incident, and the villagers reported that the FARDC has been making regular forays into the communities around their base to steal goats. The incident on 3-26-11 [edited] apparently escalated into mass rape when the FARDC troops started knocking down the doors to people’s houses.

SOS FED beneficiaries at the Mboko center

SOS FED beneficiaries at the Mboko center


Posted Apr 19th, 2011

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