Born and raised in war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kambale and his family came to the United States in 1998 when they were granted asylum. As he seized the opportunities of a new life in a new country, Kambale’s thoughts were never far from the Congo. “Living in the U.S., I have never forgotten my roots, my people, my home. I remember my friends left behind, my teachers who gave me invaluable lessons of what the fruit of hard work was, my family members whom I always worry about their well-being.” Kambale set out to educate others about the violence and injustice that plagued his home country, and how clashes over Congo’s natural resources have fueled the conflict.
The Congo has suffered two wars since 1996. The first war began as a direct result of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The second began in 1998 and involved the armed forces of a least seven countries and multiple rebel groups. An estimated 5.4 million people have died, most from preventable diseases as a result of the collapse of infrastructure, lack of food security, displacement, and destroyed health-care systems. The land in Congo is rich in minerals, especially those needed for cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Much of the fighting in Congo revolves around this lucrative mineral trade and the struggle to control the country’s wealth of natural resources. Civilians are caught in the crossfire of this violent conflict, especially women who have been the victims of widespread, brutal sexual violence.
Kambale became involved with Friends of the Congo (FOTC), an organization based in Washington, DC, that is working for peaceful, lasting change in Congo where the Congolese control their own destiny and utilize their country’s vast resources as an engine for their own development, instead of a source of exploitation. As a spokesperson for FOTC, Kambale has toured the United States speaking to university students, religious groups, elected officials, community organizers and many others in an effort to generate support for the people of the Congo.
A main initiative of the FOTC is Breaking the Silence: Congo Week, a week of education and outreach across the globe where over 30 countries and 200 universities participate in activities in solidarity with the people of the Congo. This spring the Break the Silence Speakers Tour will launch. The speakers tour will travel around the world educating people on the violent conflict in Congo and what can be done to bring peace to the country. The speakers will address issues involving women, labor, human rights, youth, religion, economics, and the environment. The goal of the tour is to build a permanent global constituency committed to ending the violence in Congo and creating lasting peace and security for its people.
For more information please visit http://www.friendsofthecongo.org
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