ECI News

News from ECI, June 2020

Hello hello!

Dear ECI family,

Yesterday, the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo celebrated the 60th anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Belgian colonial rule. On Sunday, 244 years after our own revolution against European tyranny, the American people will celebrate our independence. In both our nations, this year’s Independence Day invites us to think more deeply about the unfinished work of liberation. 

This year, Americans and Congolese alike are celebrating our independence in the midst of a catastrophic pandemic and a global protest movement. The crisis of this moment reminds us that true freedom is not won in a single victory, but through constant struggle against the tyranny of deprivation, sickness, disrespect and despair. None of us can truly be free until all of us have safety, health, dignity and joy.

We do not usually think of the day-to-day work of ECI as part of a struggle for liberation. But everything we do — every grant we make, every partnership we cultivate, every drop of water we sell — helps real people achieve the freedom to follow their dreams. ECI employees and supporters in America and in Congo are united by our commitment to greater freedom for everyone. 

As we celebrate our independence, let us all reflect on the progress that remains to be made. I wish all of us, in America and in the DRC, a peaceful, healthy and joyful Independence Day! 

Yours in freedom,

Abraham Leno
Executive Director, ECI

Update: Coronavirus in DRC

While the United States appears to have the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, the near-total lack of testing capacity in Congo suggests that we may never know the full scope of COVID-19 here. But we do know that the virus is spreading rapidly in North and South Kivu, where ECI works, and that official responses to the virus are causing social unrest

In this worsening phase of the pandemic, ECI employees are working day and night to keep our promises to our communities. 

  • This month again, the united efforts of our team have kept Asili health and water services running — just as we have since the beginning of the pandemic. 
  • Our grantee partners have been working together with us, provincial and national health agencies, and community leaders to share the most up-to-date information about how to slow the spread of the virus. 
  • The Asili medical and community engagement teams are right now creating new materials to counter misinformation with trustworthy medical guidance. 

We have been continuing to provide weekly briefings on the COVID-19 response in North and South Kivu for our friends at the USAID mission in Kinshasa. You are welcome to read them here: bit.ly/eci-covid19-briefings.

As always, ECI leadership are in daily contact with our staff, and all ECI managers are in daily contact with their coworkers, collaborators and communities. And as always, the safety of our staff and our communities is our most pressing concern, every single day. 

What’s new

Looking back on a successful 2019. Together, the people of ECI, our grantee partners, and the people of our Congolese communities accomplished amazing things. We are delighted to present our 2019 Annual Report at bit.ly/eci-annual-report-2019. Take a look and show your friends! 

Our partners

Safely back to school in Bweremana. Last month, we told you how the women in the dressmaking program at Un Jour Nouveau turned $500 in funding into an order for 50,000 beautiful fabric masks. This month, the dressmakers donated 210 masks to another ECI grantee, the teachers of ALPHAGEDE — one for each woman in the literacy and numeracy training program for coffee farmers in Bweremana. 

Strengthening markets

Starbucks loves the saveur du Kivu. Grand manager Masudi Katambela collected some new statistics from our partner coffee cooperatives. In the year 2019, world-famous coffee company Starbucks purchased an amazing amount of Congolese specialty coffee, at a price of over $6 per kilogram. How much in all? A total of 254 tons (230,400 kg) — the weight of 40 elephants! 

  • KACCO sold 7 coffee containers – 148 tons (134,400 kg)
  • CCKa sold 3.5 containers – 74 tons (67,200 kg)
  • CPCK sold 1.5 containers – 32 tons (28,800 kg)

How you can help

  • Interact with ECI on social media. We’re on Twitter, Instagram, and now Facebook and Medium. Your comments, likes, retweets and reposts are the easiest and most direct way to spread the word of our work.
  • Give us your feedback. As we find our voice as an organization, we need the help and guidance of our friends and family. If you have ideas for our social media, our blog, or our communications in any way, we want to hear them. Send your ideas directly to the comms team at info@easterncongo.org, or just reply to us on the social networks.

Wear a mask. We care about you and your loved ones!