News

A Full Day

computerLab1 (Students in Computer Lab)

 

Our day Monday was a full day, but a very good day.  We started off in the morning, by picking up our rescheduled interview with Pascal, the President of Congo Unites.  He had some very good things to say and let us know that since the Congo Unites conference in July of last year, when 200 students got together to launch the movement, there are now over 7,000 students all across the country that are members of Congo Unites!  That is amazing!  The leadership have been trying to keep up with the growth while they formalize their by-laws, register as an official organization with the Congolese government among many other things.  A lot of activity in a fairly short time, all done by the student leadership here in Congo in concert with guidance from Global Unites.

 

Our afternoon was spent at the Un Jour Nouveau (Africa New Day) center checking out the new school.  They currently have 38 students in first and second grade attending the UJN school. We sat in on their leadership, english and computer lab classes.  I especially like the computer lab classes – 38 first and second graders trying to follow their teachers’ instructions while all sitting at their own laptop… controlled chaos.  The teachers did a great job corralling the students and taking them through their lesson.

 

The day ended with an interesting opportunity for us.  The US Embassy representatives here in Congo were holding a town hall meeting for any US citizens that happened to be in Goma.  We heard about the meeting through Camille and Esther as they work very closely with the US Embassy as Wardens in Goma.  We learned a little more about the potential unrest and violence that could take place as the 2016 presidential elections for Congo get closer.

 

A couple of meetings tomorrow (Tuesday) and some time at Heal Africa.

 

More to come.

 

Thanks. 

 

 

 

Going to church

church-inside-edit (Inside the church)

 

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(Outside the church)

 

Today (Sunday) we went to Camille and Esther’s church.  As I mentioned before, Randy and I were at the very first church service when they launched the church on one of our earlier trips.  Well today they set a new attendance record and as you can see from the picture above, they had to bring chairs down from the school classrooms and quickly set up several rows outside of the building with people looking and listening through the windows.  It was such a blessing to see how the church has grown, but even more so to see the people so passionately engaged in prayer and worship.

 

And after the worship, prayer, hearing Pastor Camille share the message, church was not yet over.  Everyone got up and went outside in the courtyard area of the center and lined up because today was fitness day.  For  a good 30 minutes the church congregation was doing an aerobic workout to music.  So fun to see and what a fun community and muscle building activity.

 

church-fitness-edit (Fitness Sunday)

 

After church we had a really nice lunch with Camille and Esther and some of our new friends (Michael, who is the pastor of the Salvation Army Church in Anaheim, CA and comes here every year on vacation and hangs out with Camille & Esther – and Jennifer, who is a missionary that arrived two weeks ago and is planning on spending a couple of years with Camille & Esther working with their team).  We had one scheduled interview with Pascal Mugaruka, who is the President of the Congo Unites movement, but the weather did not cooperate.  It is the rainy season here in Goma and it certainly did rain for most of the rest of the day.  We postponed our interview and will have to pick it up in the morning.

 

Thanks again for all of your support.

Arrived in Goma

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(Randy setting up to shoot an interview with Camille)

 

We arrived in Goma on Friday afternoon – but without any of our checked luggage.  We had four checked bags, one each for Randy and I and then 2 bags we were bringing back to Goma for Camille and Esther who recently returned from the states.  All four of those bags did not arrive with us – they were lost by the airline.  The good news is that most of our gear for shooting was in our carry-on bags, so we were able to still shoot our first day while waiting for our luggage.

 

We had a nice meal with Camille and Esther on Friday evening and discussed our plans for capturing the handful of shots that we need to finish off the film.  We planned on heading back to Buhimba, which is the name of the center that hosted the Congo Unites Future Leaders conference last year.  We were able to get all of the interviews and b-roll shot that we hoped to get just in time before the rain started – which was great.  The picture above shows Randy setting up for an interview with Camille.  I mentioned that most of our gear was in our carry-on bags, one item that wasn’t was Randy’s fairly heavy-duty tripod that we use in all of our interviews.  Thankfully Camille and Esther had a tripod, albeit way too small for our camera, that did the trick.  Hopefully we don’t have to wait to long for our bags to arrive.

 

Tomorrow is Sunday so we are headed to get some footage and attend Camille and Esther’s church.  Randy and I were able to attend the very first church service that they had on one of our previous trips so it will be good to experience again.

 

More to come…

 

 

 

Here we go again…

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Hello All,

Well, let me just type a couple of sentences as it is getting close to 2am.  We are off to Goma again.  Here are some quick updates since we last talked.

 

  1. Our Premiere/Screening back in May of 2015 was great.  We sold out the theatre, had a great event, and received a ton of positive feedback on the film.
  2. Then in June I had brain surgery to remove a tumor from my ear canal/brain.  All is well although the recovery took about 6 months – I am again ready (for the most part) to head to Goma.
  3. We have been planning one last trip to Goma for the “Out of Darkness, Congo Unites” film since right after the screening.  We want to capture a couple of items that will help piece the final story together.  The planning and timing and funding all came together and we are heading out to Goma tomorrow (or later today, more accurately).

 

So, just Randy & I (Doug) are heading out this time and will travel for the standard couple of days, arriving in Goma on Friday sometime.  Be on the lookout for some updates on our progress and how things are going.

 

Thanks,

-Doug

Out of Darkness, Congo Unites

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Hello All,

 

Well, the exciting news we mentioned in our last update is that we are screening the film! On May 17th, at 7pm at the Edwards Cinemas in Irvine, CA we will host a “movie premiere” event. Edwards Cinemas has graciously agreed to host our event in one of their 500+ seat theaters. The event begins at 6:30pm with a red carpet meet and greet. The film will begin at 7pm, followed by a Q&A session with the producers, director and a few other guests involved with the film. If you are local to Irvine or will be in the area on May 17th, you can get your tickets today at the following link: http://congounitesmovie.brownpapertickets.com

 

The name of the movie, in case you didn’t get it form the title of this update, is “Out of Darkness, Congo Unites”. Along with this news of the premiere, we are also releasing the first official trailer for the film today that you can see below. Feel free to share this info with your friends and family and get your tickets to the screening soon as we anticipate selling out this one-time screening quickly.

 

 

Thanks so much for your continued support of this project and the Congo Unites movement.

 

-Doug & Mike

Quick update

Hello All,

 

Wow – a lot has happened since we last spoke.  A lot of meetings, planning, discussions, and oh yeah – editing the film.

 

editing room pic - fixed - edited (Our director, Randy, at the keyboard, with Mike & Doug working on the edit)

 

We are in the final stages of getting the movie finished.  The initial first rough cut of the movie was done about a month ago and now we are in the process of finishing the film.

 

We have some exciting news that we will share in a couple days about the first chance people will have to see the film – so stay on the lookout for that information.

 

Thanks again to all of you who have been supporting us along the way – we are nearing a big milestone in the coming weeks.

Long Time, No Talk

Wow, so much has happened since our last update.

 

We are so grateful to all of you that have been asking what is happening and what is next.  We are excited about the friends we have been able to make along this journey, the wonderful footage that we have been able to capture, and the stories of reconciliation that we have been able to witness as a result of this movement.

 

Over the past several months we have catalogued and poured over the hours of footage we have gathered.  We are now moving into the edit phase of the project.  We are extremely excited as we move through the next phase of this project.

 

However, the next 7-10 days could be very important to the next steps and direction that this project takes.  With that in mind we have a request.  Would you join us in continued prayer for this project?

 

First and foremost for our Congolese friends.  Over the last several days there have been deadly protests in the capital city, Kinshasa regarding the government’s efforts to change Congo’s election law aimed at keeping President Kabila in power longer than the current term limits allow.  We pray for our friends safety and for wisdom for the government of DRC as they navigate this critical time leading up to the 2016 elections.

 

Secondly for our project.  As you are hopefully aware, the goal of the Congo Unites Movie project is to provide awareness and funding to the peace and reconciliation movement through the youth that are a part of Congo Unites.  As I mentioned, the next several days could be critical to the path toward our goals of awareness and funding.

 

Lastly, we have included with this update this brief teaser video that our DP, Jock Petersen, put together that captures some of the beauty and depth of our new friends in Congo.

 

 

Please pray with us for God’s guidance as we enter our next phase.  Whatever approach God lays out for us, we expect to have more frequent updates coming over the next several weeks.

 

Thank you so much for your continued support.

Day 19 – The Makings of a Movement

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I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to be a witness to history.  Imagine watching Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg address or Martin Luther King Jr. preaching about equality in a Birmingham church worship service.  I wonder if the people at those gatherings realized the significance of the moment.  Today I couldn’t help but think about this as the President of Global Unites, Prashan Di Visser, delivered the closing talk for the conference.  It was incredible.  He shared his story about how God worked through him to start the Sri Lanka Unites student led peace clubs all throughout his home country.  He told the young people gathered that God was going to use their gifts and talents as well as their insufficiencies to change Congo.  It was powerful and moving.

 

filmingPrashan-edit

 

Prashan then went on to explain the 5 areas of leadership; Media/Arts, Education, Strategic Planning, Health/Trauma and Sports.  He invited the students to choose one of these 5 areas to focus on during the coming year.  After the talk was finished, the students gathered up in the small groups, designated in these categories.  They brainstormed ways they could develop these programs within each of their provinces.  The goal over the next year is to grow the movement from 200 students to 50,000.  There is a strategy in place to make this a reality.

 

Our retreat ended with a 2 hour boat ride on Lake Kivu.  Many of the students had never been on a boat like the one we went on.  The sun set over the horizon.  It was the perfect way to end our time together.  Before leaving Goma, our production team spent a couple of hours with Kobundo (Grace).  He is one of the two boys coming to Mission Viejo, California this fall to attend high school.  I sure hope you have the chance to meet him while he is in the States.

 

Thank you for following this journey.  We are glad that you are a part of this history making season for Congo!

 

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Thanks for your support!  If you are looking for other ways to support our project, feel free to visit  http://grouprev.com/congounitesproduction.

 

Days 17 & 18 – Dealing with Trauma

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How does a young adult growing up in a conflict zone overcome the trauma they have experienced? That is the question Henry Kabeya posed in the opening session of the day. Kabeya is a psychological counselor from the United Nations office in Congo. He shared with the students the consequences of suppressing the trauma and then moved into a discussion on how to find healing. He was so impressed by the students who were in attendance and the effort they were making to overcome adversity. He said they need one another and the more they talk about the pain with others who have experienced the same thing, the quicker the healing will come.

 

From a filming standpoint, we are really pleased with the progress being made. Each day we have filmed the opening session and then held a private interview with the keynote speaker. The afternoon has consisted of interviewing students and leaders one on one. We have worked diligently to have a variety of students from the 11 Provinces represented, as well as a good balance of boys and girls sharing their story. Erick, our good friend from Kenya (and second cameraman), has mostly been shooting B-roll footage. B-roll is the supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot in an interview or documentary.

 

Today is the final day of the conference. Prashan is going to share in great detail on how to grow the Congo Unites movement this coming year. The students are going to perform tribal dances from their provinces, wearing native clothes that celebrate their region. The day will end with a boat ride around Lake Kivu and then the students will head home.

 

Thank you for your involvement in this exciting movement.

 

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Thanks for your support!  If you are looking for other ways to support our project, feel free to visit  http://grouprev.com/congounitesproduction.

Day 16 – The Power of Forgiveness

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Our day began by listening to two women who are advisors on gender violence for the United Nations in Congo.  They spoke about the importance of men respecting women and for women to see themselves as capable of doing great things for Congo.  One speaker, Marie Antoinette Saya said, “A one winged bird cannot fly.  To soar as a nation, men and women need to work together.”  As I looked around the room, I could see that the girls were smiling and the boys were restless; challenged by what was being shared.  Before the session ended, a women came forward to share her story.  It was the most horrific testimony I had ever heard.

 

(caution, the following is graphic)

She began by sharing how a militia group of Tutsi’s came to her home and chopped her husband into pieces in front of she and her daughters before rapping her.  Her story got worse from there.  For the next thirty minutes she shared the pain and suffering she has faced and the physical issues she will carry for the rest of her life.  She ended by telling the students about the work she does now to help women who have experienced the same trauma.  As the story ended, a young man named Charles stood up and came forward.  He told the crowd that he is a Tutsi and said that he would like to ask for forgiveness on behalf of his tribe.  He asked if he could say the words, “I am sorry” in his native tongue so that the same language that was spoken by her rapists would now be spoken to ask for forgiveness.  The women wept and said, “I forgive you.”

 

At that moment, dozens of boys and girls began to sob, uncontrollably.  It was clear that the presence of God was in that tent.  It seemed as though many of these students had never grieved the loss of their loved ones who had been killed.  I found myself comforting several boys over the next half an hour, crying with them.  It was a redemptive, holy moment.  We ended our formal time together with singing and dancing.  As one adult leader commented afterwards, “In Congo we sing and dance because it brings us joy.  We let our pain go and remember that our hope is in God.”

 

For the rest of the day students spent time playing sports, participating in discussion groups and, in some cases, counseling sessions.  What is being attempted at this conference has never been done before in Congo.  It is only day two of the conference and God is already moving in a powerful way in this place.  Please continue to pray for all involved and that the students will find healing and discover the future calling God has for them.

 

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Thanks for your support!  If you are looking for other ways to support our project, feel free to visit  http://grouprev.com/congounitesproduction.