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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

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.

 

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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.