A BIT OF BACKGOUND…
Life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely difficult. So much of what we take for granted – clean running water, electricity, transportation – is just not available to most people there. Though the country happens to be rich in mineral wealth, corruption at all levels of government prevents money coming from the mining of minerals – minerals that are essential to the manufacture of the battery-operated gadgetry and vehicles upon which we are dependent – from reaching and helping the people. And the long-standing armed conflict between the military and warring factions keeps international aid providers at bay.
I am fortunate to have befriended a courageous young man in the DRC who blogs about conditions in his country, despite the scarcity of electricity and extremely limited access to the internet (he must walk miles to reach a public place with access). Not surprisingly, he uses a fictitious name online because anyone writing about conditions in the country runs the risk of severe retaliatory measures from the government. Despite these dangers, he dreams of and advocates for ways to make life easier and better for the people of Bukavu (in the province of South Kivu) and in the country as a whole.
In the few years I’ve known him, he continually comes up with workable ideas to help his community. Thanks to donations from online supporters, he has managed to install water tanks in a school so that the girls no longer have to trek long distances every day to bring back water (yes, just the girls are expected to do this!), organize a summer workshop to teach young people marketable trade skills, and initiate a program to teach children why wildlife species need to be protected from game hunters, poachers and environmental destruction.
With just a small online donation that paid for the rough cutting of a steel barrel to allow for optimal burning, he was able to replicate a process he found on a YouTube video and create smokeless charcoal from agricultural waste he gathered locally.
He now hopes to expand this successful experiment to bring cleaner, cheaper charcoal to his community, while at the same time creating jobs. Young people would be employed in gathering agricultural waste and creating the ash needed to press into briquettes... AND women would be given a means to make money by marketing this cleaner coal for a fraction of the cost now paid by his community for their daily cooking needs.
This grassroots project will bring much-needed change to one small corner of a poverty-stricken country… and has the potential to expand and reach many more people. PLEASE JOIN ME IN HELPING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
The benefits would be considerable:
· Cheaper, more environmentally friendly source of fuel
· Job creation for young people
· Eliminating the need for women to go out and gather wood (where they run the risk of being assaulted by roaming militia), thereby creating a safer environment for them
· Creating a source of marketing income for women
· Reinvestment of net profit to make the operation self-sustainable
· Potential to expand the use of biomass charcoal village by village
· Helping to preserve the habitat of endangered species
I'm really very excited about this project! All money raised will go toward the making and marketing of this new charcoal, and will be transferred directly to this resourceful young man via Western Union. I hope you will consider donating... and will share this fundraiser with friends. Together we can do something to improve the lives of the people of Bukavu.
- Ginger Guzman
- Katsutomo Mikuniya
- Jacob McLeroy
- Lea Gabay
New York, NY