Democratic Republic of Congo
The Congo Initiative and The Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC)
I funded my trip through personal savings and donations from family and friends. I initially connected with Congo Initiative (CI) through a friend whose brother worked at the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) in North Kivu province.
For three months, I taught multimedia journalism—photography, audio and video—to Communications students studying at the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) in North Kivu province as part of an entrepreneurial education project called “Congo in Focus.”
While there, I worked on a short documentary about women working as prostitutes in Beni, a city where many women have turned to prostitution as a result of war, economic hardship and lack of education. All want desperately to get out of their situation, but they lack the skills to find other work. They feel trapped.
I began the project with the help of Chelsie Frank, a former Heal Africa volunteer in Goma and current teacher at UCBC, who helped me establish connections with the women. As the project progressed, I enlisted the help of two of my Congolese students to aid with Swahili translation and to provide an element of security during nighttime shoots.
My hope is that by sharing their stories with others outside of Congo, I can raise awareness and funding for women’s training initiatives in Beni.
I was humbled by how open and forthcoming the women were about their lives as prostitutes. They welcomed me into their homes and seemed to understand, despite language barriers, that sharing their stories might somehow help bring positive change in their lives.
My goal is to use my skills in photojournalism and multimedia journalism to aid organizations doing “good” in underrepresented parts of the world, particularly in areas where women’s issues are often ignored. I also hope to continue implementing projects like “Congo in Focus” in post-conflict zones around the world.