Congo Has first Democratic Elections

A marathon vote count got underway on Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, central Africa’s unstable giant, for presidential elections scarred by political turmoil and haunted by memories of violence.

A day after a relatively peaceful vote, election officials began the task of counting and collating ballots in a climate of deep suspicion about fraud.

The first verbal shots were fired over alleged interference and the opposition accused the authorities of cutting off the internet to thwart activism.

DR Congo has never had a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960, and bloodshed marred previous elections in 2006 and 2011.

Worries of a new spiral into violence deepened two years ago after President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, refused to quit when his two-term limit expired.

But Sunday’s vote – delayed three times since 2016 – was “relatively calm,” the influential Catholic church’s national conference of bishops declared.

In the worst incident, four people were killed late on Sunday when violence erupted at a polling station in the Walungu area of South Kivu province.

An electoral official was accused of trying to rig the vote in favour of President Kabila’s preferred successor, said opposition figure Vital Kamerhe.

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My Country Is Sliding Toward Chaos

In the days before Congo’s elections, President Joseph Kabila’s forces have brazenly attacked and killed peaceful opposition supporters. He must resign.

By Denis Mukwege Dec 21,2018

Mr. Mukwege, a doctor and activist from Congo, won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Peace.Supporters of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party demonstrated outside the party headquarters in Kinshasa on Thursday to protest against the postponement of elections.

CreditJohn Wessels/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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Supporters of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party demonstrated outside the party headquarters in Kinshasa on Thursday to protest against the postponement of elections.CreditCreditJohn Wessels/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This article has been updated to reflect news developments.

BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo — Congo is sliding toward chaos as outgoing President Joseph Kabila has failed to keep his promise to organize free, transparent and fair elections, which were scheduled to be held on Dec. 23.

On Thursday the country’s electoral commission postponed the much-delayed vote by a week, claiming it was “technically incapable” of holding the elections. These elections, if held successfully, would have been the first peaceful transfer of power since Congo’s independence in 1960.

Even though the country’s Constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms, Mr. Kabila has stayed in office since the end of his second term in 2016, lamely citing conflict and unpreparedness for elections as his excuses. With great reluctance and after substantial outside pressure, Mr. Kabila agreed not to run again.

His ruling coalition, Common Front for Congo, nominated Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister entirely beholden to Mr. Kabila, as the presidential candidate in the elections. On Dec. 11, the European Union renewed sanctions — travel ban and asset freezes — against Mr. Shadary, who was sanctioned last year for carrying out a crackdown on people protesting the much-delayed elections.

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Mr. Shadary is competing, among others, with two leading presidential candidates from opposition parties. One of the front-runners is Martin Fayulu, an oil executive turned politician, who has long been a fiery critic of Mr. Kabila. Mr. Fayulu was nominated as a consensus presidential candidate by several opposition parties in November.

The opposition unity frayed when Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, son of the opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who founded the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party in 1982, began his own presidential campaign.

Yet when the government has permitted opposition rallies, the opposition candidates have been greeted by huge, boisterous crowds in cities across Congo, showing the broad and deep dissatisfaction with Mr. Kabila’s rule and the desire for genuine change.

But Mr. Kabila is now waging war against his own people, and government forces have brazenly attacked and killed peaceful opposition supporters. On Dec. 11, security forces in Lubumbashi, the second-largest city in Congo, tried to prevent a rally by Mr. Fayulu, the opposition presidential candidate, firing tear gas and live bullets at his supporters, killing five people and injuring many more.

The government has prohibited, hindered or attacked opposition rallies in other cities across Congo, including Boma, Kalemie, Kananga, Kindu and Mbuji-Mayi. This process does not even remotely resemble a fair campaign with a level playing field.

Give A Dam For the Congo 2018 fundraiser a success!

Thanks to Everyone who came out!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who joined us for Give a Dam Hill Repeats for Congo today. We raised quite a bit of money for Project Congo. Final numbers coming soon. If you donated online, would you mind PMing me your amount so I can add it to group total?
Special thank you to Lawrence Chow for bringing the most delicious sticky rice, hummus avocado rolls and PB&J, being our photographer, and manning an aid station for several hours (and even doing a few hill repeats in jeans with a nasty ankle injury) . You are the best!
Many records were broken today.
First of all Radu Diaconu did 52 hill repeats in about 3:50 (would’ve been faster if I didn’t stop him for group photo 😁). This time is crazy fast and I doubt it will be broken soon!
Joe Bodner did FKT for one hill is 1:07.
I did 62 hills in over six and a half hours
:::::::
Repeats count:
– Aneta Zeppettella: 62 slow repeats.
– Radu Diaconu: 52 (under 4 hours , way faster than my 60 in 6.5 hours!)
– Helen Garen did 42
– Jennifer Keiser Russo did 40 before she had to leave to get her daughter.
-Adam Rosing did 35
– Joe Bodner, Willie Survive, Barney Riesbeck, Kenny Smith did 32
– Pat Farrell and Sylvia Esser Gleason: 25
– Jordan Garris and Carissa Derr (and Roxy):20
– Marc Oligee, Heather Ekola and Jen Barnett, (and Marley the dog): 15
– Doug Picard, Matt Kesner, Leanne Hood, Tim Wilson and his wife, Ben Wilcox, Lawrence Chow, Paul Bohannon , Jessica Lee (after 16 mile run): 10
-Carla Zeppetella: 3 and decided that she’d rather swim 100 miles😁
#ultrarunner #runhappy #hillrepeats #wecanmakeohiohilly projectcongo.org
Edited; I looked over my data and I actually did 62 repeats, not 60. I can’t count

Next Project Congo Run/Hike Fundraiser at Caesar Creek in 2019

Stay tuned for details about the next Project Congo Run/Hike in 2019

 

2017 saw the first Run/Hike at Caesar Creek to benefit Project Congo.  It was a low overhead, high return fundraiser – no entry fees, no prizes, donations gratefully accepted.  The weather really cooperated, starting at about 32 degrees but warming by noon to almost 40 – clear and sunny!   What a great turnout of runners and hikers.   Several courses and distances were marked ranging from a couple miles to 12 miles (although one runner actually did 16!).   Everyone was so generous, with donations to help Project Congo support hospitals and people in the DRC.   Dr. Sylvia spoke of her first trip to the Congo and how appalling the conditions were – inspiring her to found this nonprofit 10 years ago.  She reminded us all of the plight of refugees around the world, going without food and shelter and shared her own family’s experience in France during WWII.    We raised $1205.75 just at the event, not counting donations online and some promised in the mail.   FANTASTIC!!   MERCI to everyone and YES! We plan to make this an annual event!! Suggestions for improvements welcome – send email to info@projectcongo.org.

Aneta along with Mike organized this event. THANK YOU Aneta!
Listening
What a great turnout!
THANK YOU EVERYONE!
Mike and Cuba have been loyal supporters of Project Congo for years. Mike organized this event with Aneta. THANK YOU MIKE!
Dr. Sylvia Esser-Gleason, Founder of Project Congo
Mingling
Hikers
Sylvia sharing her story

 

 

Support Project Congo via AmazonSmile!!

If you already use Amazon for shopping, you can now help support Project Congo by using AmazonSmile!

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Project Congo every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the SAME products, prices,  and convenient shopping as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate .5% of the purchase price to Project Congo.

How to shop at AmazonSmile?

To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. You may also want to add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.

How do I select Project Congo to support when shopping on AmazonSmile?

On your first visit to AmazonSmile smile.amazon.com, you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping.  Search for and select “Project Congo.”

If you already use AmazonSmile for another of your favorite charities, you can change your charity any time. Your AmazonSmile purchases after the change count towards your newly selected charity. To change your selected charity, sign in to smile.amazon.com on your desktop or mobile phone browser and simply select “Change your Charity” in “Your Account.”  If you support another charity via AmazonSmile, please consider having a “Project Congo Day” and setup your account to donate to Project Congo for just a day!  Every little bit helps.
Which products on AmazonSmile are eligible for charitable donations?

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.

Can I use my existing Amazon.com account on AmazonSmile?

Yes, you use the same account on Amazon.com and AmazonSmile. Your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same.

Can I receive a tax deduction for amounts donated from my purchases on AmazonSmile?

Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.  But, using AmazonSmile to designate  Amazon donations to Project Congo is one more way you can support Project Congo.  Individually, the .5% might seem like a small contribution, but for Project Congo, every little bit helps.

How can I learn more about AmazonSmile?

Please see complete AmazonSmile program details.

Thank you for supporting Project Congo!

St. Vincent’s New Maternity Center Competed!

 

In 2017 Project Congo is partnered with the Italian non-profit Con Vista Sul Mondo (CVSM) to complete the Maternity Center at St. Vincent’s hospital in Bukavu, DRC.   Thanks to all our faithful Project Congo supporters, we successfully raised the funds as did CVSM and construction is is completed.  Project Congo members Jean McNamara and Dr Sylvia Esser-Gleason  along with members of ConVista Sul Mundo were able to attend the inauguration ceremony in February 2018. This facility will provide a much needed  safe,  sanitary and technologically up to date facility for mother and babies. A big thanks to all who helped make this dream happen!

Nurses celebrate the first baby born at the New Maternity Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Congo installs Laboratory at Centre Medico-Chirurgical de Goma

March 2017

Project Congo, in partnership with Worldwide Labs installed a new laboratory at Centre Medico-Chirurgical de Goma which will allow for diagnostic testing resulting in higher quality medical care for patients in Bukavu, DRC.   The lab includes microscopes, centrifuges, refrigerator, and a variety of test equipment all set up to run on car batteries.  This gives doctors the ability to perform blood and urine analysis both for their own patients, and as a service to other health facilities in the area (providing an income stream).

Worldwide Labs is a nonprofit based in Michigan that purchases and accepts donations of used quality laboratory equipment.  They completely refurbish the equipment and provide technicians to install it onsite and train doctors, nurses and lab techs.  James
Borody was the lab technician who installed the lab and provided training.  Prior to joining WWLabs, James spent 11 years living in Niger.  He speaks French fluently.

 

Project Congo and Con Vista Sul Mondo agree to jointly fund Maternity Center

September 2016

Project Congo and Con Vista Sul Mondo agreed today to partner in providing funds to St. Vincent Hospital in Bukavu to complete the second floor of the Maternity Center.

In February of this year, Project Congo and Con Vista Sul Mondo toured the Maternity Center and witnessed the damage to the first floor, which is functioning with patient rooms, a labor room and birthing room.  The damage is the result of the fact the second and third floor is exposed to the elements and during the rainy season, rain collects on the unprotected “roof” of the first floor.

A grant from the Heineken Foundation in the Netherlands seemed imminent at that time to complete the structure.  However, in August, St. Vincent was notified they would not be receiving funds from that source.

At that time, St. Vincent appealed to the Consortium.  We agreed to scale back the construction to one floor, and divide the cost.   St. Vincent would also look at how to pull the costs in.   The first stage agreed to is to enclose the structure to make it weatherproof.

Project Congo Enters Consortium Agreement

December 2015

St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bukavu has been supported over the years by two nonprofit organizations.  Project Congo is one, and the other is an Italian nonprofit called Con Vista Sul Mondo.   In many ways, Con Vista Sul Mondo is similar to Project Congo.  It is an all volunteer nonprofit with no paid personnel.  It has a medical focus and supports hospitals.  When volunteers travel to St. Vincents, they, like us, pay their own way and do not use donor funds.   They have a budget that is in the same ballpark as Project Congo.   They differ in that they have supported St. Vincents in ways we have not (or not been able to).  They have a wider range of volunteers including dentists and pharmacists.  And they have hosted St. Vincent doctors in Italy to train them to perform complicated gynecological repairs.

Con Vista Sul Mondo has a long history with St. Vincents.  They provided the funds for the main building almost 20 years ago.   More recently they provided funds to build a maternity unit.  That building is not completed, but the first floor is functional.  A volunteer dentist with Con Vista traveled to Bukavu with equipment and supplies and set up a dental clinic.   Then Con Vista funded several St. Vincent employees to travel to a hospital in Bujumbura, Burundi for dental training.   A volunteer pharmacist with Con Vista set up a compounding lab at St. Vincent, and trained at St. Vincent pharmacist to compound creams, salves, and drugs.  This reduces cost significantly and gives St. Vincent instant availability to medications.

At the urging of Dr. Jeff Mibi of St. Vincent’s, the Project Congo board decided in Q4 of 2015 to enter into a Consortium Agreement with Con Vista Sul Mondo and St. Vincent’s.   This agreement simply states that the three entities will strive to partner on projects together.  It does not bind us legally to participate in anything.   But it is a legal declaration that we intend to discuss and explore opportunities to work together.  Having discussed and signed this agreement, it is unlikely either Project Congo or Con Vista Sul Mondo will independently start a project without discussing it first with the other.   This alone will prevent each of us doing things that might overlap and waste resources.  And the prospect of partnering means we may be able to accomplish something neither of us could alone.