Introducing Gaspard*, an Early Warning Network radio operator in his village, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With your support, Gaspard saves lives.
Gaspard’s village is very remote, sitting on the edge of Garamba National Park. As you might imagine, groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and armed poachers have taken advantage of its isolation, consistently threatening the safety and livelihoods of the people as well as the wildlife and natural resources that support them.
As a leader within the community, Gaspard feels a sense of responsibility to protect his neighbors and overcome the challenges they face so that they can move forward toward a safer, brighter future. In short, he’s committed to building up the resilience of his community. That’s where the Early Warning Network and local Peace Committee come in.
Ten years ago, Invisible Children installed a high frequency (HF) radio in Gaspard’s village, trained local leaders how to use tool, and connected them to the Early Warning Network. Since then, Gaspard and a few other local leaders have participated in daily security calls via the radio which have allowed them to share and receive life-saving information about armed group activity and other security threats.
Equipped with more information and warnings from over 100 other communities in the network, Gaspard has helped his people prepare for and prevent violence and kidnappings when armed groups are near.
In 2018, Invisible Children began working with Gaspard’s community to establish and support a Peace Committee. Along with Gaspard, leaders and representatives from across the community were elected to serve as members of the committee. They work together to identify concrete solutions to challenges that impact the safety and resilience of the whole village.
Invisible Children staff led a community mapping workshop where Gaspard and the other Peace Committee members created a detailed map of their village and the surrounding area, including places where violence and kidnappings have occured, their vulnerabilities and resources. From there, Invisible Children helped the Peace Committee develop an action plan to improve the community’s safety and wellbeing.
Now, Gaspard’s community is forewarned with life saving information and prepared with plans. Knowing when to remain home, to travel in groups, or to avoid certain areas – saves lives. Thanks to the Early Warning Network and the work of the Peace Committee, Gaspard’s village is building a foundation of community-based safety. From there, they can begin to work on other issues of community wellbeing, allowing them to become more resilient.
In communities across central Africa, Invisible Children is already working with local leaders like Gaspard to build on this foundation and address the impacts and drivers of violent conflict, which often go hand in hand. By helping communities develop sustainable livelihoods, address trauma and mental health needs, and successfully mediate conflict, we can help ensure that communities in central Africa are not only protected but also have the opportunity to thrive and prosper in safety.
*Gaspard is a pseudonym.