World, meet Jean de Dieu Kandape, Invisible Children’s Early Warning Program Manager in Central Africa.
Jean de Dieu has been a key member of the Invisible Children team for just over four years and it’s no stretch to say that in that time we’ve come to love him more than a cool breeze in August.
We first met Jean de Dieu in January of 2012 at a meeting of humanitarian organizations and community leaders in Dungu, DRC. By April 1, he was officially sworn in as an Invisible Children Team Member.
We recently asked Jean de Dieu what he remembers about his first day in our DRC office in Dungu:
“I can easily remember it. It was a day of joy mixed with a little anxiety. Joy, because I was starting a job that allowed me to work to protect communities. Anxiety, because it was a new position, that I didn’t know much about. I had to ask many questions.”
Jean de Dieu did ask questions, and has since become a leading expert on our Early Warning Network and the needs facing LRA-affected communities. Today, we’re the one’s asking HIM questions.
Everyday, Jean de Dieu embodies the “Jump First, Fear Later” courage that we admire. From his first day on the job at Invisible Children, to his regular travels to remote central African communities still targeted by Joseph Kony’s violence, Jean de Dieu is always ready to do what’s needed to help make communities safer.
Just last year, while Jean de Dieu and his Invisible Children teammates were traveling by road to a remote community in DRC where they were scheduled to lead a training with Early Warning Network radio operators, the team’s vehicle broke down. They were stranded not far from where an LRA group had recently attacked and abducted civilians. The alarming situation took a surprising turn of events.
“We were very afraid and we did not know what to do,” Jean de Dieu recounted. “But the LRA were also afraid, seeing our vehicle stopped so nearby. They were so afraid that they released all of abducted civilians and moved farther into the bush. After some repairs to the vehicle, we continued on our way and the released abductees were able to return to their homes.”
Every day Jean de Dieu, and all of our Central African colleagues, carry out the hard work of making sure that the communities around them are safe from violence and able to thrive. It’s not always safe, and it’s never easy, but our team always answers the call.