1. Step Forward. Today, I substituted as the Sergeant of Arms for my Rotary Club. To start the "Happy Bucks" session, I told the story of Rotary Clubs in Sweden and the United States helping the Rotary of Nairobi, Kenya support orphaned children. It happened after the disputed presidential election in December in Kenya. The Rotary Clubs from Stockholm, Sweden and Dayton, OH (District 6670) raised $5,500 and $25,000, respectively. The riots and national emergency created additional problems for the orphaned children. Rotarians should feel happy.
2. Step Backward. Our April 16 discussion with John Katunga about Congo and Coltan (Columbite Tantalite) has moved up in time to 2:00 and shrunk (we have a smaller room). Nevertheless, meeting with John will be a great opportunity. John Katunga is Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Regional Technical Advisor for Peacebuilding and Justice in the east Africa region, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Serving in this role since January 2007, he provides technical guidance and assistance to CRS peacebuilding and justice programs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Before joining CRS, John served as the Acting Executive Director of the Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa, a peace organization focused on conflict resolution and reconciliation across the continent. Previously, he worked as a social sciences researcher in the DRC at the Natural Science Research Center in the Kivus and as a human rights representative for the Congolese Human Rights League, the first human rights organization in the DRC. John is a Congolese.
3. Step Forward. I was given the name and telephone of a woman in the DC area. Supposedly, she had information about shipping to Congo. I thought she worked for the Defense Department's Funded Transportation Program. I called her last week and left a message. Today, she returned my call. But she explained that she was learning the process to ship through the program. Actually, she was waiting on getting the Congolese transportation or custom office to sign off on the shipping manifest. We agreed to stay in touch and she asked for my email address. Minutes after the call, I got an email message. At the bottom of the two-sentence message was her organization's web address. I went to the website. WOW! Her organization was instrumental in establishing a Sister City relationship between Falls Church, VA and Kokolopori, Equateur Province on February 13, 2006. This is the one and only US Sister City Partnership in DR Congo.