Women Witness Congo

Digital storytelling to connect the global community with the women of Congo, their rising leadership and their compelling visions for change.


A movement is in the making!

In April 2012, Alliance for the Earth (AE) journeyed to D. R. Congo to produce valuable video documentation of the current political, social and environmental landscape. We conducted citizen journalism trainings and documentary interviews, and collected visionary statements from women in partnership with local activists.

The women of Congo are beginning to mobilize at the grassroots level for a new Congo. Women Witness Congo for the World will support that fledgling movement and help catalyze a global response to the violence and environmental devastation currently occurring in the DRC through the creation and distribution of media that matters. 

We believe story leads to action. This powerful digital storytelling project will bring the global community face-to-face with the women of Congo, their rising leadership and their compelling visions for change through four video documentaries of varying lengths.

We need $20,000 to produce these video pieces. See below for a description of each.

Our partner in this effort is World Pulse, an action-oriented media network powered by women from 185 countries. World Pulse is developing a large-scale action campaign to End Violence Against Women that includes a Congo focus. The video stories produced through Women Witness Congo will be essential to these efforts. 

Women Witness Congo will clearly and powerfully tell the story about why Congo matters to us all, how each of us is intimately connected to the violence through our choices as consumers, and most importantly, how we can be empowered with knowledge to make a shift today and support a movement that is rising from the ground up among women.

In the presence of the Congolese women, it is impossible to not take action, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our sisters, and participate in the creation of a new story.

AE has a proven track record for effectively supporting grassroots efforts to build peace and reconciliation in the crucible of communities torn by civil war. Our Liberia Peacebuilding Project empowers the work of our Liberian partners who are collaborating with women leaders, ex-combatant soldiers, elders, and youth activists to further peace and reconciliation initiatives throughout that country.

AE also has substantial experience in delivering leading-edge media through our Global Healing Project — media that inspires sacred activism and connects diverse peoples, including indigenous elders and young leaders, across space and time from remote locations across the planet.

Story Leads to Action: Digital Storytelling to End the Violence and Support the Emergence of a New Congo

Media is not free or democratic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Fear rules on the streets where rapes and abductions commonly happen on the way to the market. The government controls the media like it does the elections. Despite this, AE witnessed a willingness to speak up and the growing realization that regular people have the power to make real change.

The media trainings we did engaged women leaders, journalists and activists — putting video cameras and cell phones into the hands of those with stories to tell. Participants hit the pavement and dirt roads to conduct their own interviews, asking everyone from university professors to charcoal sellers in the market, "What is your vision for a new Congo?"

AE will create three short video documentaries and one longer film that combines aspects and themes from all three to bring the stories and visions of the Congolese women to a wider audience. Distribution will occur in collaboration with various Internet media platforms, television outlets and partners in a global campaign to raise awareness about Congo, stop the violence and inspire a women’s movement of empowered change.

Here are the proposed video projects:

Women’s Voices for New Congo

This short video documentary will focus on a women-led call for change in Congo. Young women seamstresses, victims of rape and brutal violence, women providing support amongst the neediest in their communities, grandmothers, journalists and teachers will all be brought together to form a united voice for change. From all walks of life — sharing their own incredible stories and their insights about what a new Congo would look like and how to get there — these women command the attention of the global audience because their perspectives illuminate the answers to our global issues.

Congo’s Rising Leader: Neema Namadamu

This short video documentary will focus on a remarkable Congolese woman leader, Neema Namadamu, and her stellar work as an activist, World Pulse journalist and honored member of her community. Handicapped from polio as a child, Neema represents those most marginalized in present day Congo yet she is an unstoppable force for change, at the heart of this inspired women’s movement. One of Neema’s most visionary projects is to bring broadband Internet access to Congo. She is also running for governor in the coming elections.

Earth Treasure Vase in Congo

Thisshort video documentary will feature the ceremonies, prayers and burial of Alliance for the Earth’s 27th Earth Treasure Vase (see www.EarthTreasureVase.org for more on this 20 year+ project of sacred activism and global healing) in the Itombwe Forest with the indigenous Pygmy communities of Eastern Congo. From churches in the city of Bukavu, to the deep jungle inhabited by the endangered eastern lowland gorilla, the Earth Treasure Vase carried prayers across the world to the heart of Africa and was finally planted in a place where peace must be preserved.

Witnessing Congo for the World

This longer documentary combines elements of all of these above and additional information about the minerals mined in Congo, and the economics of supporting rebel militias. This piece will aim to illustrate the ways in which what is happening in Congo affects all of us, how women have the power and vision to lead, and how necessary it is to participate in the creation of a new story in Congo for the protection of the rainforest and the resources we all share.

Why Congo?

We feel the global community has long turned its gaze away from what is considered the worst region in the world for gender-based violence. Here, 400,000 women are raped each year and 5.4 million people have been killed in the deadliest conflict since WWII.

Why now? A mineral called coltan is at the root of the conflict and the violence. Coltan is refined into tantalum and tantalum is needed for every smart phone, laptop and TV remote produced in our addicted, throwaway, consumer society.

The militia groups that mine these minerals are responsible for the rape and violence, along with the environmental devastation of one of the most beautiful places on the planet as they seek to maintain control of the mines.
Indirectly, we all support the crisis in Congo — the violence against the women — whenever we purchase the latest gadget.

The women of Congo are not only the victims of rape and war. They also are change-leaders, peacemakers, and visionaries, holding the key to solutions for bringing an end to the violence, transforming their own communities, and stewarding the second largest rainforest in the world.

Join us as we use technology to tell a new story. Let's harness the momentum of an emerging media revolution for justice, equity and the safeguarding of essential human rights. And let's empower women to take the lead in showing a new way forward — a way that honors and respects life on Earth.

“We live on an interconnected planet, and what is happening to Congo is happening to ourselves as well. Can we understand that we are not separate selves, but that everything happening in the world is happening to ourselves? If so, it stands to reason, then, that in the transition to the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible, every place and every one must come along with us. No place, no people, no person can be written off.”  ~ Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics

What We Need

We need $20,000 to create and produce all 4 video pieces from the raw footage for Internet and television distribution.
This budget is for an activist film campaign. We have created a multi-tiered media campaign that will distribute 3 short, high-quality videos for Internet viewing and immediate grassroots organizing. In our fourth piece, we will incorporate the time and resources spent on those videos into a longer, more comprehensive documentary.

If we were to really dream big (and we are!)…with another $20,000, we could return to Congo, follow Neema as she runs for governor and implements nationwide Internet in Congo, and develop a story around the Pygmy community in Buyungule and the Itombwe Forest Pygmy efforts to bring rights of nature to Congo's forests. We would crew a production with locals and train them in filmmaking, and continue to support and rally around the efforts for a peaceful movement in Congo. If this speaks to you, please help us get there!

What You Get

Our perks are amazing and truly meaningful — thanks to all of our partners! With your contribution you will be supporting a women's movement in multiple ways. Check them out.

Couphaha Coltan Halter Dress. Find us on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/groups/427700320584059/

Other Ways You Can Help

Please help us get the word out. Use the Indiegogo share tools to send our trailer to your networks and friends who might be interested in standing with the women of Congo and participating in the emergence of a new story. Thank you!

Our Team

Cynthia Jurs, Director, Alliance for the Earth

More than 20 years ago, Cynthia undertook a pilgrimage that would transform her life. She carried a burning question on her journey to a 106 year-old monk, living in a cave in the Himalayas: how can we bring healing and protection to the Earth?

She was given 30 consecrated clay vessels known as Earth Treasure Vases in the ancient Tibetan tradition, and told to fill them with sacred offerings and prayers in community; to bring them to the places around the globe most in need of healing; and bury them in collaboration with activists and indigenous peoples of those places. Today, 27 of the original vases have been buried — four in Africa, and most recently in the DR Congo.

Both the Lama’s response and the Earth Treasure Vase practice defy logic. And maybe that is precisely why miracles have sprung up throughout the global mandala created by the vases and our relationship to them.

Cynthia is an authorized Buddhist teacher of “engaged Buddhism” who received formal Dharmacharya transmission from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in 1994. She directed and produced the film, Turning Prayer Into Action: Indigenous Grandmothers Meet the Bioneers. and has made numerous short films documenting the Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Project. She guides the Open Way Sangha, teaching and leading groups in meditation and spiritual activism.

Cynthia has firsthand experience in the working of miracles and knows we can create one now in Congo.

Raji Mandelkorn, Media Director

Raji Mandelkorn is a media specialist and communication activist. She produces video documentaries for causes and organizations engaged in social, cultural and environmental stewardship. With a special dedication and focus on Africa, Raji studies African dance; produces video and music media in Guinea, West Africa; edits videos from South Africa, and is a partner on a fair-trade Afro-western clothing design company. She also has mentored youth in developing media skills both in the U.S. and Africa, produced feature documentary films, and written and produced music for film.

Traveling to Congo to film interviews, conduct media trainings and document a movement was a dream come true — providing the opportunity to combine her love of Africa with her dedication to women's empowerment and media knowledge. Raji has also edited all of the short films for the Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Project and will serve as editor on Women Witness Congo for the World.

She sends you her love and hopes you will join us in witnessing Congo and standing for change.

Christian Leahy, Communications

Christian is a writer, dreamer, and activist at Studio Poema: Illuminating the New Story. Studio Poema partners with visionary people and organizations to effectively create, communicate, and deliver breakthrough ideas and projects to the world.

When she is not following the thread of the new story, Christian is awestruck and attentive at the altar of all that is wild and beautiful, advocating for rights for nature, or playing with her son.

Team on This Campaign: