Radio AFEM is a national NGO that trains women to become journalists and produces radio shows that are broadcasted on 15 local community radio stations within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Based in the town of Bukavu, South Kivu province, Radio AFEM was founded by Madam Chouchou (pronounced ‘Shoo-Shoo’), a self-taught investigative journalist, front line revolutionary and testament to the power of the human spirit. Her fight is for the rights of women in a country where women have no voice, quite literally – in many places, speaking in public is forbidden. There is no region on earth where rape takes place with the frequency and scale as in the DRC. Women and children are the victims.
Madame Chouchou and her team of female journalists place themselves and their network of volunteers in conflict areas at great personal risk, recording and broadcasting the testimonials of the victims of these crimes of sexual violence. Radio AFEM has no resources beyond its people, laptop computers and a small recording studio. They have no broadcasting ability of their own. Program editors send CD recordings to regional radio stations, paying $50 per thirty-minute slot across 43 radio stations.
Their scope is beyond reporting conflict. Their programs encourage audience participation and empower women to find a place of self-belief through shared experience and professional advice; covering topics from pregnancy to farming, human rights to postnatal care, to a woman’s right to comment on politics and economics, Radio AFEM is making heroes of women through telling their stories, both as leaders and as victims.
AFEM is just one of the community initiatives supported by the East Congo Initiative, one of Falcon Coffees’ supply chain partners in DR Congo. Together, we are going to use the power of coffee to build AFEM their own radio station and to broadcast coffee training programs through them to the hundreds of thousands of women that grow, pick and carry coffee every day in the Kivu Provinces. This will create revenue, beyond aid, for AFEM to stand alone as a commercially sustainable business and grow as a force for positive change.
As business people we have a responsibility to integrate the economic welfare of people who exist on the margins into our economic activities. We will work with East Congo Initiative and similar organisations to support incredible people like Madam Chouchou by figuring out ways to integrate our coffee activities with social initiatives that will help rebuild the Congo.