Learn about the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Village of Bakwa-Tshileu
1. The D.R.C.
- The Second Congo War, which began in 1998, devastated the Democratic Republic of Congo and persists in the east of the country despite the signing of peace accords in 2003. Destroying most of the Central African country's infrastructure, the war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people since its start. The vast majority died from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.
- The DRC has experienced a long period of instability and violence, as well as repeated political crises.
- In the DRC, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is the worst in the world, according to a Washington Post article from 2007.
- The long and brutal conflict in the DRC has caused massive suffering for civilians. There have been frequent reports of rebels breaching humanitarian and human rights laws, killing civilians, destroying property, engaging in sexual violence, and causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
- According to a 2008 United Nations report on the Congolese people:
- 75 percent live below the poverty line
- More than half have no access to clean or safe drinking water or to basic healthcare
- Three out of every ten children are poorly nourished
- Up to 20 percent of children won't live past the age of five, and nearly half will die before their 40th birthday.
The villagers of Bakwa-Tshileu face innumerable challenges caused partly by society, cultural traditions, the corruption of government, and political instability :
- No access to clean or safe drinking water (women need to walk 14 km each day to get water at the Lukonka river)
- Risks of getting diseases
- Complete isolation and disconnectedness from the world outside of the village (closest city: Mbujimai-70 km away)
- Malnutrition (villagers eat mainly corn, peanuts, beans, soy, and manioc -type of potato) Inadequacy of fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy
- Illiteracy for the majority (currently only one out five children attend school in the Democratic Republic of Congo)
- Extreme poverty (through a poll I conducted recently I discovered that a student in the FIS owns on average 24 shoes while a villager from Bakwa-Tshileu owns on average 1 shoe)
- Gender inequality (the chief purpose of women is work such as the cultivation of fields and acquisition of water. Three out of 4 children not attending school are girls.)
3. The Urgent Problem of Water
The building of a well is the village's main priority right now for several reasons:
1) Last summer 12 people died from cholera in Bakwa Tshileu. Cholera is a disease of the intestines that results from bacteria and parasites that live in dirty water. In the USA, this disease does not even exist because we have clean water and antibiotics. Right now, the people of the village are drinking dirty water they collect from the river, which is 4 miles away.
2) The leaders of the village of Bakwa-Tshileu want to give the opportunity for good education to both boys and girls, men and women. Their idea is to teach everyone in this rural community English, which is the "international language of business," and to help bring the people out of poverty through education. While this is a really good goal, if the women and girls have to walk 4 miles to the river to collect water, and then carry it 4 miles back every single day, they don't have any time left to go to school. So the women and girls are being left out of education, without a clean drinking water well nearby.
3) Another part of the village's project involves agriculture and livestock. The animals require huge quantities of water, so that makes the job of fetching water even more challenging, because they have to collect so much. This is another good reason to have a well nearby.
A team of expert hydrologists and environmentalists from Vermont, Ray and LyndaTalkington, have estimated that it will cost around $30,000 to install three wells in Bakwa Tshileu, in different locations in the village to avoid fighting among the villagers and to make water available to everyone without creating long lines, etc. They plan to return to the village to construct the wells, using expensive drilling equipment, as soon as the money is raised.
Rumblings of war in heart of Africa by Abraham McLaughlin
World War Three by Chris Bowers
Prevalence of Rape in E. Congo Described as Worst in World Washington Post
The Deadliest War In The World Time.com