All posts by sylvia

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

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.


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
Edited; I looked over my data and I actually did 62 repeats, not 60. I can’t count

2013 DRC Trip Cancelled due to Security

This year’s trip to the DRC had to be cancelled for security reasons.

In 2013 the Eastern Congo saw escalating fighting and violence by the M23 rebels in the area. In late 2012 the rebels took control of the city of Goma. In the rural areas villages were liquidated and mass killing took place. Don Bosco Ngangi was able to provide shelter, food and medical care for thousands of refugees. The Nutritional Center cared for increasing numbers of sever malnourished children and St Vincent’s sadly saw high numbers of rape vicitms.
Though we were unable to travel to the Congo we were able to send continued financial assistance and ship medical equipment and supplies.
We concentrated our efforts on the following programs:
1. The Nutrtional Center at Don Bosco Ngangi
2. Medical care of refugees at Don Bosco Ngangi and Health Alliance Goma
3. Medical and surgical care of rape victims at St Vincents
4. Education and tuition assistance for girls through the Simbas Girls Soccer Club.

Mugunga Refuge camp attacked

With disgust I learned of the brutal attack on the Mugunga Refugee camp by M23 rebels. We visited the camp last summer.The camp houses 50,00 refugees. Many of whom fled massacres in their own villages. The M23s attacked with morta
r rounds and machine gun fire. They looted and raped through out the camp and took many children between the ages of 12-16 as child soldiers. The M23s are not men or freedom fighters, are are something worse than animals.

Mugunga Refugee Camp after attack.
Mugunga Refugee Camp after attack.

Solar Electricity for St Luke’s Hospital

Solar Electricity for St Luke’s Hospital
This summer a team of bio-medical engineering students from Wright State University, will travel to Bombo, Uganda to install solar electricity at St Luke’s Hospital  The hospital currently has no electricity and the staff works with kerosene lamps and flashlights when it is dark.

The team will also repair broken bio-medical equipment.

The project cost is for on site purchase of materials and supplies is $5,000.

Update:  Completed June 2012! Thanks to everyone who made this happen!

 Women’s Livestock Project

Shasha is a refuge camp approximately 90 minutes northwest of Goma.  Shasha is a “Spontaneous” displacement site — it was established by the inhabitants rather than any governmental  or humanitarian organization.  Although the community is well organized, with a leadership structure, the people of Shasha are poor and in need of basic survival resources.  

We are starting a goat and cattle raising project for the women of the Shasha refugee camp. This program will provide a source of income and food for the women and allow them to regain financial independence and care for their families.

beneficiaries of goat project
Br Jean Pierre, Dr Joseph and some of the Shasha women who will benefit from the project.
Brother Jean Pierre purchasing goats

August 2009 Update

August has been a busy and exciting month.

In early August we sent a truck load of radiology supplies and equipment and an Ultrasound unit to New Orleans to be included in the sea container of medical equipment that will ship at the end of September to Ngangi.

On August 9th the Dayton Daily New, Hamilton News and Lebanon Star all featured full page articles on Project Congo. These have generated invaluable interest and support.

The Project Congo Run on August 15th was well attended and a lot of fun. It generated enough money to purchase a much need neonatal incubator for premature babies at the medical center. Many thanks to all those who turned out to help and run!

Looking to the month of September, the Cat Scan unit donated by the VA Medical Center in New Orleans should be dismanteled and crated and ready for shipment by the end of the month. A second container of medical supplies consisting of items donated to or purchased by Project Congo along with medical equipment donated by the VA Medical Center should begin it’s journey to the DRC about the same time. With the contents of these container we hope to have a fully functioning Xray department in 2010, as well as a small surgery and ICU.
On September 13th a group of Dentist and Radiologists will arrive at Ngangi Medical Center to survey needs and see how they can help during a month long visit, tenatively scheduled for August 2010.

On a sadder note, for those suffering from  deprivation, illness, injury and starvation caused by the on going warfare there is no immediate end in sight. The invasion by Rwandan forces at the begining of the year brought some temporary stability, which has since erroded. Planned resettlement of refugees have been canceled and refugees continue to stagger into the Goma area in search of refuge.