teaching, learning and living around the world
Everyday now I return to the guest house, only to have my feet nipped by two very naughty (and adorable) puppies. After work yesterday, I hung out for a while in the parking lot with my filmmaker friends and the protagonists of their upcoming documentary… two former child soldiers. Everyone (from the filmmakers to the translator) was disciplining the dogs. “Ah! Go away! Acha! Stop biting my feet!!”
C’est ma vie en Congo, eh?
Amidst everyday life is often something quite extraordinary.
I had just spoken to one of the filmmakers, Lindsay, the night before, and explained to her that I’d recently checked out her website and was so ridiculously impressed. Her photography is incredibly beautiful and her mission to be an “Artisan de la Paix” inspires me. She also works with her friends of various multimedia talents for an organization Jonathan started called Discover the Journey.
From my initial conversations with the Discover the Journey team it was clear that they are taking so much pride in every aspect of crafting this documentary… the photography, filming, the story… they’re even doing their best to fully align the questions we ask ourselves in Congo, and the questions that the film will spark in the minds of audience members around the world. And the thing that impresses me most- something that many filmmakers miss- is the fact that they care about their protagonists.
So sitting in the guest house parking lot yesterday, I was completely moved as I witnessed the interactions between them all. In addition to joining me in scolding the dogs- the film crew and two boys joked and laughed together with a sense of endearing closeness that can only come from truly caring. These kids, who have spent years in a militia and were robbed of a childhood, robbed of simple things like… HUGS… were now saying goodbye for the day and receiving long and tight hugs from these team members who have spent three years filming their lives. It was all just so real. And I hate to be cliche here but it totally warmed my heart.
And not just with regard to the people standing there,
but it made me feel hopeful for everyone in Congo.
Later on that night, they began telling me more about Discover the Journey and showed me a short video clip entitled “i am child.” I often talk about how kids are the same everywhere, and this clip captures my thoughts and feelings way better than I ever could. Do watch it or read about it here. Their goal is to potentially create seven documentaries about each category of child. They are starting with “i am soldier child,” here in Congo, with the tale of these two boys.
“Seven films?! That’s a lot!” I said.
With a smile and the olll’ yes-and-i-will-do-it glimmer in her eye, Lindsay responded, “Yea, it’s a lot. Probably a lifetime career’s worth…”
Have I mentioned yet that everyone on this team appears to be in their mid-twenties? Young, talented and GOING for it. Woowee!
Based on what I’ve seen and heard from the group- I think that this will be the film about Congo I’ve been waiting for, for a long time. It will capture the beauty, complexity and potential of Congo, and help the rest of the world empathize with the questions that Congolese people are faced with everyday. (Not shocked, depressed and hopeless… but empathetic.)
Why this war?
Why these evils?
What does God think?
How can we move forward?
Is forgiveness the only path toward peace?
But what is good and what is evil?
Can we forgive such evils?
Is it possible for people to change?
And it will probably leave the audience feeling…
confused and unsure of the answers.
But empathetic and hopeful nonetheless.
My experience here has certainly left me feeling this way.
Confused, unsure, and still pondering these questions.
And I am empathetic and hopeful nonetheless.
***Shameless but genuinely enthusiastic plug for my new friends.***
I hope that by now the fact that I am so pumped about this documentary is just seeping through your computer. Please do consider checking out their work at www.discoverthejourney.org. There are many ways that you can support their efforts.
Remember my old blog post about Peace Day? And how initially the theme of our skit was- If you want peace, prepare for war? Well that really is a popular proverb around here and they’ve created an amazing t-shirt that now kids all over Eastern Congo are wearing… and it twists that very proverb into something more suitable for a war torn region seriously seeking peace… Anyhow, enough from me- they tell it all much better- just check out their website!