The project will shed light on the under-represented stories of the DR Congo, those of hope, peace and strength. The campaign will use various forms of interactive media to change the prevailing narrative on Congo from the “heart of darkness” to one of hope and promise for the future. The project will be implemented firstly, via workshops, in partnership with Panzi Foundation DRC in Eastern Congo. Then, the project organizers will work with local women to accumulate media that highlights their strength and the promise of hope in Congo, to be shared in the digital world.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
We will primarily work with women who live with the daily devastating effects of conflict in Congo, and the activists who empower them. As Channel currently focuses on the DRC we engage the local population in developing all our programs. The true strength and hope in the Congolese story is under-represented online, in favor of sensational depictions of the conflict, that ignore the identity and integrity of the Congolese people, particularly its women. Part of our organization's vision, is to advocate on behalf of under-reached and vulnerable communities. This project will play a role in the empowerment of Congolese women by allowing their voices to be heard. While the activists involved, are generally very familiar with computers and the internet, the women themselves, are not.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
We will use Channel Initiative’s existing platforms, and various social-media outlets, as seen below:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/buildhopedrc
Twitter – https://twitter.com/channeldrc
Instagram – http://instagram.com/channel_initiative
Blog – http://www.channelinitiative.org/blog/
In addition to the above, the following individuals on the team will support the implementation of this project:
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Current media casts the Congolese people, particularly women, as victims. In the coverage of the atrocities though, incredible stories of hope go overlooked, and so, we strip the Congolese people of the integrity of their narrative. We envision changing this, by allowing local people a chance to share their voice. These are the types of content that will be created –
- Short stories. These will be written as part of the workshop activities. They will be stories of Congo, personal narratives, and dreams for a future Congo. They will be used on blogs, and for op-ed pieces.
- Photographs and Video. These will demonstrate Congolese women as strong and hopeful survivors, not victims, and will be taken by the project team, and during self-documentation activities as well.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
Channel's partnership with Panzi Foundation DRC, and other local actors will be key to the success of this project due to the widespread influence that our local partners already have with the population.
Panzi Hospital specializes in providing care for survivors of sexual violence in Eastern Congo. Panzi Foundation DRC was created to support the work of the Panzi Hospital and extend its reach outside of the hospital’s health zone. The “Panzi” name is recognized throughout the province as a reliable provider of compassionate and empowering care. Their vision for empowering the women of Congo, track record of their excellent programs, and our previous partnerships for advocating changed global narratives on Congo’s women, have already laid the ground work for this project.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
We will conduct workshops with approximately 20 Panzi staffers, in web-advocacy. We will also conduct activities with approximately 50 women at a minimum, together with selected activists to empower them and collect the required content.
As a growing international force for advocating on behalf Congo’s women, Panzi Foundation has recognized its need for increased social-media capacity and know-how. We expect that they will be prepared to participate and through their engagement will be able to engage local women and other actors on a more dynamic level.
Following this initial project, we hope to continue playing a role in supporting Panzi’s web-based advocacy work, and support them in portraying a stronger story of the Congolese woman.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Given the context of the DRC, and the constraints regarding electricity and internet connectivity, we will primarily use writing tools and cameras. We will focus on the raw power of the true Congolese story, and those of its women and its activists. We want to simply listen and capture what needs to be represented.
The project organizers are experienced international advocates for Congolese women, and have previously conducted successful activities on the ground and international advocacy campaigns. Furthermore, the team-members are all experienced writers, who will be able to bring their skill to sharing the voices of the Congolese woman. Finally, the lead implementer is experienced in appropriate field-advocacy and content creation.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
We anticipate holding workshops in both open and closed spaces. Because of our partnership with the Panzi, we envision making some use of hospital facilities. In addition to working with participants in open spaces in the community, we anticipate also making use of the meeting spaces located at the hospital and clinics in the areas we will work in.
Given that many of our workshops and meetings will take place in open spaces, we anticipate there being adequate lighting during most sessions, but perhaps challenges with electricity and sounds. We discuss this issue further in the section on anticipated project challenges.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
Channel Initiative is a diverse community working to respond to the urgent needs of under-reached communities. We currently work in the DRC to empower women in rural communities through access to holistic health. We work closely with local partners, most notably of which, Panzi, as we believe that, locally owned solutions are the most sustainable.
We are the most appropriate organization to implement this project, in partnership with our local colleagues, because we are community-focused, present on the ground, and intimately involved with and aware of the needs and strengths of the population we serve. Our long-term commitment ultimately involves continuing to ensure that rural communities have access to health services, knowledge and basic infrastructure.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
A lack of consistent electricity and reliable access to internet may make it challenging to produce the project media. However, Channel has ongoing experience with overcoming these types of challenges. We successfully manage our multiple social media and blogging platforms and crowd-funding campaigns, while in the field.
Using cloud and regular backups and alternative power sources, we minimize the risk of losing material or troubles with the workshops, due to power outages. We will also use internet connections in urban areas for uploading media.
Despite the conflict in Congo, we do not foresee any significant security challenges, given our experience in the field and knowledge of security protocols, and the period of stability right now.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
We will conduct brief pre and post-project interviews that will give participants the opportunity to express their feedback. We will measure our impact, based primarily on the participants’ subjective impressions that their stories have been portrayed faithfully and have been effectively communicated through the media produced.
Impact on the global digital community will be evaluated by measuring web-traffic, as well as quantitative and qualitative review of audience response to determine the size of the audience reached and the level of engagement produced (comments, follow-up inquiries, re-posts, new followers, daily engagement etc.).
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
May 2014 – Pre-launch discussions with local partners
May 2014 – Selection of candidates for training and workshop activities
May 2014 – Signing of relevant agreements for confidentiality and media-use
June 2014 – Training with Panzi staffers on web-based advocacy and casting a positive narrative on Congo
July 2014 – First workshop on written narratives – personal experiences, dreams for Congo, hopes and plans for the future
August 2014 – Second workshop for visual media
August 2014 – Launch of social media and internet advocacy activities
September 2014 – Focus groups with participants in country
September 2014 – December 2014 – Continuation of internet-advocacy activities
December 2014 – Evaluation of engagement analytics
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Budget Total – $2300
Lomography camera – $70
Film to Digital scanner – $100
Digital Camera with Video capabilities – $80
Disposal Cameras for self-documentation activities 5 @ $12 each – $60
Film – $300
Mini Projector – $60
Solar powered battery backup – $50
Workshop Costs – 3 @ $200 each = $600
Administration Costs/Printing Materials/Incidentals – $180
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Besides microgrant funding, we hope to have an opportunity to interact with other grantees, and derive from the shared experiences of currnt and past grantees. We gather that there is an online curriculum towards training participants – and we’d like to have an opportunity to explore customized curricula and curricula adapted to our advocacy work. Additionally, since much of our work in the field needs to be supported by constant engagement on social media platforms, we would be grateful to receive advocacy support from and through the Global Voices platform.