For more than two years students at Foothill School of Arts and Science in Boise, Idaho have been learning about the connection between the minerals in some of their favorite technological gadgets and the conflict that has been going on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the impact it has on Congolese people and students in particular. Foothill School has a sister school in the DRC called Nkokwe primary school. The Foothill community worries about the safety of their friends at Nkokwe. Consequently, they have been advocating for peace in DRC by sending letters to the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice and to their representatives in Congress.
This May, students and staff contacted the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and their representatives in Washington with this message:
“Our sister school, Nkokwe Primary School, is located in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We want to do everything we can to help the students and their families there to have a safe environment in which to live and learn. We feel very strongly about the problems in the DRC and we believe Section 1502 in the Dodd-Frank Act will help prevent future violence in the region. Waiting to act on these rules is only prolonging the suffering of Congolese people. As consumers we, along with many others, are very willing to pay more for electronics and jewelry that have not been funded by rape, maiming, or murder. Please support Section 1502 and help bring prosperity and peace to the Congolese people. Thank you!”
They held a school picnic selling fruit and muffins to raise scholarship funds and signed their yearbooks to send to students to Nkokwe. When AFJN staff visited Nkokwe school, we brought soccer balls and over $800 in school fees for orphaned students. Foothill has been one of key supporters of the vision of Nkokwe’s principal, Maheshe Edouard, to promote girls education. For the last two years girls enrollment has reached over 177 out of about 500 students. To sustain this trend, Mr. Maheshe hired the only female teacher out of twelve to serve as a role model and provide support for female students.
For questions about this story, please contact Emily Williams, Global Education Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a project in Africa we encourage you to back it up with strong advocacy at home. To find out how your school, church, city, fraternity or organization can participate in conflict mineral advocacy contact Bahati Jacques at email@example.com or 202-884-9780 ■
By Jacques Bahati, AFJN Policy Analyst and Jessica McGinnis, former Community Coordinator at Foothills School
This article was firt published in our April-June Newsletter