January 31, 2019

FIELD UPDATE, Democratic Republic of Congo: Tunaweza Portraits Project Gets Started!

Hello from Project Director Christina Mallie!

I have been on the ground for one week now and things are starting to move.  Whenever I visit a country in Africa, I receive a warm welcome, no matter what may be going on locally. In this case, I arrived a few days after the highly anticipated and contested presidential election, and in the midst of an on-going Ebola outbreak (to the north of Goma). But even with the heightened tension and anxiety around these issues the people here with whom I am living, working and meeting have made sure that this has been a welcoming, energetic, and beautiful first week for me.  

During Tunaweza Portraits Project, we’ll work with adolescent girls, their communities and community leaders to shift perceptions about the capacity of women and girls and their role in society through public murals and posters.  This is a way to positively combat gender discrimination and gender-based violence, promoting a positive and alternative view of women and girls that does not further victimize or portray them as powerless.  

So far, I have mobilized my team of local assistants, several of whom I worked with in the Courage in Congo Project back in 2016, and we have been organizing meetings to engage the community leaders and planning out the project step by step through the end of the project scheduled for the end of April.  Each phase, from selecting locations for the public art works that will be created, to the relationships built with community, and the evolution of the young women we work with, is crucial to the meaning and success of this project.  

Stay tuned for more updates!

*Photo above: Project Director Christina gets things rolling with Community Engagement Lead, Grace, and project photographer Betty at the Yolé!Africa Cultural Center in Goma, DRC

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