condition critical

Mishoka’s Story – Condition Critical from duckrabbit on Vimeo.

Talented multimedia producers and all round good eggs duckrabbit have been doing some work lately for Condition Critical, a campaign being run by Medicins Sans Frontiers to highlight the brutal conflict going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It’s officially the world’s deadliest conflict since the second world war and yet few people have even heard of it. If DRC had oil fields or Islamic terrorists the story would be very different.
But as remote as a war in the deepest depths of central Africa may seem to us here in drizzly, damp Britain as the Christmas retail frenzy just gets going, it does actually have an impact.

Where I live in inner city Manchester, you can’t get on a bus at the moment without hearing conversations in French African – a good chunk of speakers being recent refugees from DRC. As a journalist I’ve covered a number stories involving members of the campaign group Congo Support Project. And through my time spent with Sofia, a destitute asylum seeker who has become a friend, and even before then, I have met numerous Congolese asylum seekers and refugees – some of whom are also destitute, in constant fear of being deported and scraping by on charity handouts. As long as the conflict continues in their homeland, desperate Congolese people are going to keep turning up here – and being condemned to the miserable existence of an asylum seeker.

Anyway, duckrabbit have put together four very powerful, and very sensitive multimedia pieces that simply tell the stories of ordinary people caught up in a terrible situation. This is what Benjamin says about the project:

“According to the IRC at least at least 5m Congolese have died in more than a decade of conflict kicked off by the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Most of the deaths are linked to a lack of medical facilities as the ability to access medical care has crumbled. The four videos on the condition critical websites bear witness to the pain and trauma of those caught up in the conflict, but also their dignity and ability to move on and make a life for themselves.

“Told only in their own voices all the website asks you to do is send a message of support. At first that might sound a bit daft. I mean why send a message of support to people I know nothing of? Surely what they need is cash right? Well first off if you watch the videos you can find out about their lives, you can find out they’re not that much different to you and me just that they’ve been caught up in an unforgiving conflict. Secondly messages of support do make a difference. I know this because last year I worked in camps in Kenya and the thing that people were most frightened of was being forgotten, the sense that no-one cares. That’s what leads to depression and despair. Worse than that when no-one cares people can do what they like to you, with impunity.

“So the fact that MSF will take these messages and share them in the camp will make a difference. It will also give a huge moral boost to the MSF staff working in Eastern Congo.

I’m not being paid to write this, I just think its important. I also think by doing something you’re supporting NGO’s to take a more journalistic approach to their work, rather then just asking for your cash.”

To see all four videos and learn more about the campaign, visit the Condition Critical website. To get involved, leave a message on the website and spread the word about the project – through twitter, facebook, blogs or email.
We need more of this from charities. We should be moving away from the transparent spin and manipulated stories, and getting more of this – powerful, honest journalism that educates, shocks and pushes people into action. This is the kind of thing I’d like to do when I grow up.