Communication Infrastructure

Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)

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Community of the Disciples of Christ of the Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo

Over 100 years ago, U.S. missionaries founded the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC) in what today is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as Zaire.  The church has been affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States since 1899 and is a longstanding partner of Global Ministries.  It has 324 congregations with 650,000 members. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo lies astride the equator, and virtually all of the country is part of the vast Congo River drainage basin.  The DRC is made up of a large plateau, forests, swamps, and mountains and is divided into ten provinces.  The population of the Congo includes approximately 200 ethnic groups.  The official language is French with indigenous dialects.   

The DRC still struggles after many years of civil war and dictatorship. There is still much suffering from poverty, malnutrition, disease, and hunger.  While the economic situation seems to be slowly improving, the United Nations Development Program on Human Development Index ranks the DRC as 168 out of 177 countries in the world.  In spite of the difficulties faced, the church has remained the center of daily life for the people. The transportation systems are in very poor condition and travel is inaccessible in some areas.   

The communication infrastructure in the CDCC area has been nearly totally obliterated due to years of war. The CDCC has many different church posts located in provinces and cities around the country.  The distances between these posts can be as large as 1,000 miles.  Travel is usually on foot or by boat and can take nearly a month to complete.  Letters are sent back and forth but may take over a month to receive.  Many times the event mentioned in the letter has already passed and required some action to be taken weeks before the letter arrived.  The operations of the CDCC are greatly hampered because of the lack of communication.  Better communication between the posts would help the CDCC to accomplish its goals and complete the important work that needs to be done.  Communication can be improved using several different means. 

Short Wave Radio

Better communication can be achieved between the posts with the acquisition and use of new short-wave radios.  Short-wave radios were purchased for all of the posts in 1985 but their twelve to fifteen year lifespan has long since passed.  Short-wave radios, antennas, solar panels, batteries, and related equipment are needed for twenty-five (25) posts.  Funds are needed not only to buy the materials, but for transportation to the various posts and to train selected individuals from each community which will receive a shortwave communications set.  This will allow each community to more readily install, maintain, and if necessary make basic repairs to different parts of the station it receives.

The costs associated with this project are as follows:

Budget for each station:

  Radio                                           $2,000

  2 Solar panels                              $800

  2 batteries                                   $400

  Antenna                                       $500

  Cables, etc.                                  $300

  Canoe                                          $500

  Freight to Mbandaka                      $500

  Training materials                         $250

  Training/travel                              $1,500

  Team travel                                  $1,000

  Miscellaneous                                $400

Total (per station)                           $8,150

Grand Total (25 stations)                 $203,750

Web Site Development

Obtaining and dispensing information is an essential factor for advancement.  People communicate, obtain, and transmit information daily on the World Wide Web.  This access would help the lives of people in the DRC and the CDCC.  Because of the poor conditions, there are currently no extra funds available for web development.  Communication through a web site has many advantages and benefits.  The church could reach a potentially unlimited number of people who are interested in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in helping to improve the lives of the people.  The church can provide information about the DRC and inform the world of all the different things the CDCC is doing.  It would allow 24 hours a day, seven days a week access to up-to-date information and allow people to communicate with the CDCC at their convenience.  It would also allow the CDCC to provide instant responses to questions and provide information.  Increasing awareness of the conditions and events in DRC would enhance interest in helping the CDCC provide for the people and improve their standard of living.   

A 45-day training program is available in Kinshasa to teach the computer skills necessary to begin and maintain a web site.  The CDCC feels a person connected with the Community of the Disciples of Christ of the Congo management team in Mbandaka is best suited to have this information and to start and maintain a web site. 

Computers for University

Associated with the CDCC are two universities: The Protestant University of the Equator/Bolenge, and the Protestant University of the Congo.  With most people simply trying to survive, the universities have been struggling and there is a scarcity of funds for necessities such as books, computers, and other equipment.  Students and faculty are finding it very difficult to learn with such limited access to information and class materials.  Currently, students must either write their papers by hand or type them on outdated typewriters, and many are finding it nearly impossible to find required class readings in French.  The president of the Protestant University of the Congo has access only to an old, slow computer; one which lacks the memory needed for today’s programs and information. 

The CDCC has begun a project to raise funds for the purchase of new computers so that students and staff at the universities can access the internet.  They also have expressed the need to obtain theology books and library materials in French to update the very limited resources of the universities’ libraries.  These universities are the main training institutions for CDCC pastors, and a good education for these young students is essential for the future benefit of the CDCC. 

 Update

August 2014

There is great excitement over the shipment of shortwave radio equipment kits (radios, solar panels, batteries, antennas, cables, and wiring) in order to complete the essential project to provide a radio communications infrastructure for the CDCC.  Reduced costs made this possible by including the radios in the shipment of hospital equipment to Bolenge Hospital.   The Disciples Amateur Radio Fellowship and the United Church Amateur Network (DARF-UCAN) was also able to include a radio set for the new Hospital Ambulance boat.  The shipment is expected to arrive September 15, 2014. 

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