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30 human rights activists trained in digital security in Lubumbashi and Kisangani

Between September 2017 and June 2018, we conducted a series of digital security training and awareness in two cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Thanks to the support of the Access Now grants program, a total of up to 30 human rights activists, bloggers, civil society leaders went through our digital security training curriculum.

The training aimed at equipping these civil society leaders on the latest safety tools to support their work and help them keep their privacy in a society where Internet freedom violations are increasingly present. Many of our participants have either seen their online communications intercepted or being questioned for what they have said on social media.

As a preparation for the general elections scheduled to start in December 2018, our training covered topics such as :

  • Email encryption
  • Using secure mobile apps
  • Protecting their online communication platforms through using strong passwords and using password managers
  • Protecting their devices against malwares, viruses, etc
  • Enabling two factor authentication on Gmail as well as on Facebook
  • How to circumvent Internet shutdown by using apps such as VPNs, etc.

Participants in Kisangani and Lubumbashi gathered for a five days training each (between September and December 2017), which was followed by online discussions, encouraging each participant to practice some of the tools and apps they learned. The online discussion also helped participants ask questions to the trainers and receive real time support on troubleshooting issues.

Follow up sessions were then conducted later on in both cities (between January and June 2018) where participants were also introduced to the ICT policy landscape and the Internet governance ecosystem. They were then introduced to the policy making process and had the opportunity to understand the DRC policy landscape.

Arsene talking about ICT Policy in Lubumbashi

As a result of these efforts, participants reported now being cautious about their online security and some shared the following :

« I now know how to create a strong password and how to no longer worry about memorizing it. I am able to use the password manager that best suits me and store all my different passwords for all my online websites and devices », said Costa, a male blogger in Lubumbashi.

« I used to have my laptop available for anyone to use it but after this training, i now know that i should not because anyone can then install surveillance apps in there and be able to track all my work. I also now protect my laptop with strong password », said Judith, a female film maker in Lubumbashi.

« As a medical doctor, i did not know how to best secure my patients data until i discovered that i can create a virtual disk and keep confidential data in there that i can access through cloud from whichever desk i am using », said Querida, a female medical doctor and civil society activist in Kisangani.

At the end of these series of training, we agreed with the participants that everyone who uses the Internet or a computer needs to be introduced to a basic digital security training because we all can be vulnerable somehow. We are therefore look forward to more opportunities to offer these training all over the country so that people can get ready for the upcoming elections.

« Once you are trained, you need your friends and workmates to also be trained so that you are all secured. You cannot start using encrypted emails if your friends with whom you communicate do not. We encourage Rudi International to conduct more of these training in schools, offices so that everyone is aware of potential risks they may face while online », said Junior, a male participant in Lubumbashi.

« But I have personally decided to do my part in training my colleagues and the clients that are coming to learn basics of computing at our training center in Lubumbashi », Junior concluded.

In May 2018, Arsène Tungali, our Executive Director was part of a panel discussing digital security training in Africa at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto, Canada. He had the opportunity to share our perspectives, the challenges we faced as well as best practices that can help other trainers to better conduct their digital security training.

If you want to learn more or partner with us in these efforts, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Rudi Christmas Project 2017

It is that time of the year again when all over the world, people are celebrating the birth of the Son of God among men. This year, we want to remember the birth of Christ as we celebrate Christmas with the children from Rudi Education, their family, and up to 500 more people from their community. Just for a reminder, the large majority of the people we serve are internally displaced persons living in challenging conditions right outside of Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

We delight in bringing joy to this community that has been affected by war and conflict for the longest of the past 23 years. Many of you have contributed from $1 to hundreds of dollars to make this event possible for the past 6 years.

Please join us again today and let’s bring joy and cheer in Lac Vert together by giving right on this page or by going to our Campaign titled Rudi Christmas Outreach on YouCaring.com. Our goal this year is $2,774 for a two-days event reaching out to more than 500 members of the community. Thanks to the contributions of many, we are getting closer to the goal. Please join!

 

Contribution to Rudi Christmas 2017

(The quantity you pick will be multiplied by $10 to compute the total amount of your donation)

$10.00

Introducing Young Congolese Girls to the Internet!

Rudi International, through its ICT Programs, recently launched a series of training targeting young women aged 18-25 years to introduce them to everything Internet. We have been working in this field since 2012, trying to engage more and more women into this space, helping them understand why and how they need to embrace an ICT career and more broadly, to engage in STEM.

In partnership with Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach, a sister organization, we started a series of training that started in June and scheduled to resume in September 2017 in Goma, eastern Congo where we are based. A group of 20 young women will be trained, one weekend every month (Saturday and Sunday) in different topics, divided into different phases.

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For June, they have been taken through the basics of the Internet such as understanding the origin of the Internet, introduction to Internet governance, how to create and use an email address as well as basics of social media usage. They were taught about the main organizations working in the ICT space, globally as well regionally and how they can be part of the policy process. As a result, they now have started communicating using Gmail and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The session in June was the starting point as we look forward to the remaining 3 phases, with the same group of young women.

The next phases

The second phase, in July, they will go through a module on “Using the Internet for peace, development and advocacy” where they will learn how to use social media sites to promote causes they believe in, to share positive messages and be part of the Congolese online community.

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Ladies enjoying the training during phase 1 in June 2017

The third phase will focus on “Citizen Journalism” where the ladies will learn basics of blogging as well as writing for the web. Our team of trainers will use their time to take these young women through blog creation, production of content and how they can promote their blog posts on social media. We want to see these women be able to take over the web through production of quality content and be citizen journalists that will be followed for their posts.

 

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Ladies enjoying the training during phase 1 in June 2017

The last phase in September will deal with “Online security and data protection”. This is essential in this world and in the DRC with the current state of Internet freedom; we want Congolese young women to be able to surf the web while taking care of their personal security and the one of the people they communicate with. This subject is scheduled for the end of the training because by this time, participants will have acquired the knowledge they need to use the Internet in an effective way.

In between each phase, our trainers will be checking on them and use WhatsApp groups to further communicate, share tips and receive homework as a way to help them discover new things, features that they cannot learn during the training due to insufficient funding. With this project, we want to emancipate these women and help bridge the digital divide that exists between men and women in the use of technology.

Want to participate?

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If you want to partner with us to advance the use of technology in Congo and participate in the reduction of modern slavery, do not hesitate to use the Contact section on this website to share with us your thoughts.

We took the kids to a field trip, again!

The school year was very long and we are glad we can relax and enjoy the beauty of this place as we enter our holidays”, said one of our students during the field trip that took around 92 of our sponsored students to a private ranch and a garden in Sake, at over 30 kms from Lac Vert where most of them are staying.

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Arsene Tungali, Rudi International is introducing the ranch to the students before the tour starts

Field visits are an essential part of our work, as part of our Rudi Education program; we take the kids out of their comfort zone to discover a new place, a different reality from what they are used to. The main objective of these is to show the kids that despite their current life, they are able to imagine, dream and work on determining their own future which should not be determined by their past. During our meetings, we remind them that they cannot change their past, that they have a say in designing the future they want for their lives, with God’s help. Rudi International is just opening one door, giving them access to education, a lifetime opportunity that they should take seriously.

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In the past, we took them on another field visit, the national broadcasting corporation (RTNC) which is located at a hill called “Mont Goma”, in the center of the city. From the top, you have a view of the whole Goma city as well as of the Nyiragongo volcano. They also had the opportunity to learn everything radio and TV broadcasting process. Check this one as they visited the Goma main harbor!

On July 5th 2017, they had the opportunity, at the ranch, to ride a donkey and this was beautiful as they were thriving to stay on its back and at the same time learn to pet it so the donkey stays quiet and humble. These are things you will pay a lot of money to do but we were fortunate enough we didn’t pay per kid but we paid just a small contribution in order to benefit from this experience. The owner of this place was so welcoming after we explained to him why we are offering this experience to our kids.

 

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Most of these kids are living in families torn by different issues, from poverty to painful experiences their parents went through. Some of these kids have a single parent, either because the father decided to leave them or the mother left looking for a better life leaving her family behind. Some of these students are living at their grandparents because parents are no longer together for so many reasons. But what they all have in common is that they are long time internally displaced families, who left their original place of stay due to war/conflict and have been living for the past 5 or 7 years at a place where they have no land to farm; they are now renting a small place to stay, in difficult life conditions, making it hard for them to gain a living and support the education of their kids.

That’s why at Rudi International we have decided to focus our action in Lac Vert so that we can support these families, either through supporting the education of a number of their children as well as supporting their mothers, sisters through our Sewing Project. We have been doing this for quite some time now and we are thankful to God and our supporters who are joining hands to support our work. God is simply using us to put love in action, with the support of our friends from all over the world.

At the beautiful private garden, the kids had the opportunity to learn on modern farming using machinery. They had the opportunity to see how technology can apply as well into farming, making life easy and allowing a large space to be farmed in a short period of time.

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So, this machine can work on this whole space for 3 days, only ?” asked one of the kids after they have been shown an engine that is able to take care of a spot that would require up to 10 people to do the same job, within two weeks or more. In their context, all they see is their mothers, sisters going to farm and spend weeks working on a small piece of land and come back home very very tired.

With this field trip, we were able to congratulate them for a year well spent and wish them the best of holidays and we look forward to seeing them again in September when school starts. On our side, we will be working hard to make sure we are able to gather enough sponsors to support their schooling.

You can learn more about previous trips we did with the students in the past on this website or through our Facebook page, Rudi International.

If you want to sponsor a student (or renew your sponsorship) for the upcoming school year, please visit our website and use the donate button to make a secure donation. You will then receive a thank you note form our President to confirm your donation. We will then assign you to a specific children in need of support.

ICT policy training for Congolese activists held in Goma

In partnership with the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), we brought together human rights activists, journalists, bloggers, lawyers, etc to discuss ICT policy issues in Africa and in the world. A special focus was on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) because we examined the current policies and the way the policy development process is being handled in the DRC.

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For two days, it was a good opportunity for journalists and human rights advocates in Goma to be exposed to Internet freedom topics and know how they can be part of the policy discussion. One of the major activities was that participants were able to read the current ICT laws and to compare it with the new proposed ICT laws currently under discussion at the Parliament.

Recommendations were drafted on how the ICT proposal can be improved and have it include issues such as privacy, freedom of expression, etc. As a result, a statement was issued: DR Congo Parliament Urged to Pass Laws That Support Citizens’ Rights Online (available on CIPESA’s website), its French version can be downloaded here [Declaration de la Societe Civile – Francais].

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This training was the first of its kind to be held in this part of the country. Rudi International has been working in the area of Internet freedom for a few years now, being represented at major events discussing Internet shutdowns and other violations of citizen’s digital rights.

We are committed to work with a lot of partners in shaping the Internet freedom agenda in the DRC. If you want to partner or want to learn more, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

 

Encourage A Mother This Year

While the tension is rising once again in the eastern cities and villages of the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while news agencies are reporting the crossing into Congo of numerous armed rebels in the this January 2017, while the majority Congolese population continues to live in fear, trauma, and extreme poverty right in the middle of one of the potentially richest countries in the world, a group of young men and women are focusing on what the Lord God gave them to do.

They are volunteering time, energy, and other resources to point a select group of about 10 women and young ladies to the Lord Jesus and the hope He gives while teaching them a skill that would help them provide for themselves and their families.

Through the Encourage Mothers program, Rudi International, a youth-led and Christ focused non-profit organization, is running the second year of Renew Hope. This project is a response to the need of a holistic approach to solving profound and deeply rooted issues among the women and children of Lac Vert, a city where most of the participants in Renew Hope reside. Rudi International partners with Linked Through Love Foundation, a Canadian non-profit organization, to make this project at all possible. Linked Through Love Foundation provides you with a way to give, to join in the work, and to learn some more about the Encourage Mothers project.

Renew Hope consists in classes where the women receive training in sewing skills. These have proven beneficial both to the first group that graduated in 2016 and to the new group that started right after them. Of the first group, Ms. Philomene testifies of her own progress and the confidence gained in one month of training:

When I first came here, everything was hard for me. From using scissors to cutting a piece of tissue, it is a long journey. The month was not too long, now I am proud to present a shirt and a dress I was able to sew. I am thankful to God and to our trainers who are putting in a lot of efforts to help us go through our first steps”.

Philomene is just one of the 10 students who are this year benefiting from the collaboration between Linked Through Love Foundation and Rudi International who are serving Jesus Christ with the immediate goal of “Improving the lives of vulnerable, at risk women by providing them marketable skills they can use to escape the restraints of poverty and/or abusive relationships, providing them independence and an ability to provide for their families.” (LTLF)

Please learn more about the program at Linked Through Love Foundation’s website where you can also choose to sponsor one or more of the women in the program.