A time to give thanks…

A time to give thanks, with your family around you – help a Congolese
university graduate return home

American Thanksgiving rituals focus on reflection about our blessings, and that includes family.  If you have room to add a few more people to your
virtual table, please consider helping three new Congolese university graduates return to their remote village for long awaited reunions with their families.  These young men have been living in Congo’s capital for more than 6 years, where they have been earning degrees that will be applied to great use in Lotumbe (a village located 200 km from the provincial capital of Equatorial Province, and accessible only by canoe). They simply don’t have the money for the airfare to the provincial capital (approximately $400), much less the cash to pay for canoe rental and river taxes (approximately $500).  Help get them home! Please send your check to
North American Liaison Bureau, P.O. Box 545, Penney Farms, Fl 32079 USA. A tax invoice will be sent to you.  If you don’t have a US dollar account,
please contact NALB director Dr. Ben Hobgood on b.hobgood@juno.com or HandUp Congo director Lucy Hobgood-Brown on hobgood-brown@msn.com.au and discuss alternative ways to provide support.  For information about Université Protestante au Congo, please go to www.upcongo.org.

Giving thanks for collaborative communication efforts

Elombe, the radio operator for Lotumbe with Jeeff Yoka of Ingende.


Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Congolese villagers, a North American amateur radio network, a small nonprofit, and the U.S. government, 11 remote communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo can now communicate over vast distances in a country that is about the size of Western Europe!  New radio systems, including antenna, solar panels and batteries, were funded and made possible through international efforts by the Disciples Amateur Radio Fellowship / United Church Amateur Network (DARF/U-CAN) in the United States and Canada, the US Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC and our own Lucy Hobgood-Brown and Anne Zolnor of HandUp Congo.

DARF-U-CAN volunteers have just returned from an extensive training and installation field trip, teaching 60 people including the supervising pastors of over 20 Disciples of Christ in Congo administrative posts. “We provided the necessary equipment and tools so community leaders could return to their villages and install the radio system,” explains Fred Erickson, one of the American volunteers.  Following the training in the provincial capital, Mbandaka, three volunteers traveled 200 km upriver by canoe 16 hours to Lotumbe, one of the posts selected to receive a new radio.  “The head pastor had no trouble using his training to get the system installed and operational,” says Fred, noting that the country’s growing Disciples community of more than 200,000 members relies on the daily radio transmissions to share news and resources with one another in a region that boasts a rainforest second in size only to the Amazon.

A highlight of the trip for the American volunteers was the timing, notes Fred. “The entire Lotumbe community gathered to jointly celebrate the installation of the new radio system and the 100 year anniversary of the Lotumbe mission,” he says.

While in Congo last November, Anne and Lucy arranged the introductions of the Disciples of Christ in Congo and a childhood friend, Becky Ward, the community outreach coordinator for the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.  Becky immediately saw the importance of communication in that remote region of Congo and arranged for a grant from the U.S. government which coupled with the DARF/U-CAN donations funded the 11 radio systems.  Three cheers for collaboration!

For details about HandUp Congo’s work in Lotumbe, go to www.handupcongo.org and amateur radio fans can learn more about DARF/U-CAN by visiting www.darfucan.org or http://darf-ucan.blogspot.com.

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