“I chose to be a humanitarian to help my human brothers and sisters who are victims of war or any other catastrophe to regain their human dignity. I do this in the name of human solidarity, in my own community and everywhere else where men, women, or children are subject to suffering.” – Ferdinand Zangapayda, CDJP, Dungu, DRC
Among the many incredible and brave heroes at work in central Africa today is our friend and partner, Ferdinand.
Ferdinand is from Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — a small town tucked away in one of the most remote and dangerous corners of the globe. Like many other communities in northeastern DRC and eastern Central African Republic (CAR), Dungu is incredibly isolated from most of the world around it. Families in this region often don’t have access to communication tools like telephones, or internet, and unmaintained roads and a complete lack of infrastructure make it incredibly difficult to access information or services from the outside world. This makes them vulnerable to armed groups like Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
For years, the LRA and other armed groups have targeted communities like Dungu, forcing families to live in fear every day. Without the ability to call for help or even warn neighboring communities of danger, these central African communities have faced and withstood some of the most unimaginable violence with little recognition or support from the outside world.
But Ferdinand is changing that — by helping connect central African communities to each other and to the world through Invisible Children’s Early Warning Radio Network.
We first met Ferdinand in 2010, when we were just beginning to develop the Early Warning Radio Network. Our team was looking for a radio operator — someone to use the High-Frequency radio every day to report any violent activity to other communities and to our team. We reached out to our partner (and father of the Early Warning Radio Network), Father Benoit and he introduced us to Ferdinand. We knew right away, Ferdinand was the perfect person for the job and he’s been a part of the Network ever since.
Today, Ferdinand manages the Early Warning Radio Network in DRC. Everyday, he helps to facilitate communication between all of the Congolese communities within the Network. He then shares information that is reported through the network as well as his own on-the-ground analysis of local security with our LRA Crisis Tracker team.
Because of Ferdinand’s work, communities throughout central Africa are finally able to share life-saving information with one another and our LRA Crisis Tracker team is able to provide up-to-date information and analysis to humanitarians, protections actors, and policymakers to ensure that they are able to more effectively protect communities like Dungu. Thanks to Ferdinand, thousands of families are safer and countless lives are being saved.
Ferdinand sees his work connecting communities through the Early Warning Radio Network as a constant opportunity to create change and make an impact. It is his passion, determination, and fierce commitment to his community that makes him a hero.
There are countless heroes just like Ferdinand throughout DRC and CAR. Every day, these brave individuals fight for peace and justice in their communities. Thanks to our supporters, dozens of these heroes have access to tools like our Early Warning Radio Network and other Invisible Children programs that are helping make communities safer and break cycles of violence.
But so many of these heroes and their communities continue to be threatened by the LRA and other armed groups without access to these kinds of tools. As a result, thousands continue to live in fear — isolated from the world around them.
But — just like Ferdinand — you can help change that.
Make a donation to Invisible Children today, and become the driving force behind programs, like the Early Warning Radio Network that amplify the voices and work of heroes on the front lines of ending violence in central Africa.