The Distance We’ve Traveled

A year after founding the Maman Shujaa Media Center in Bukavu, DRC, Neema Namadamu celebrates its growing success.

Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

"Women are finding confidence they didn’t know they had. They are finding answers that have been hidden within them all along."

It’s a miracle to me that we are talking right now. We are so far away from each other, and yet, here we are. I reached out and you reached back—and now we are together.

Just over a year ago we women of South Kivu, DRC first came online as a group, as the Maman Shujaa ‘Hero Women,’ to connect and share our stories with our sisters around the world. The demand to go online became so great that we soon had two to a seat, and last month we had 1,250 women sharing the chairs in our media center. We are from all tribes, all backgrounds, all professions, all situations, and we are together! We are for one another, as women. And we are drawing men to our cause as well. Police, military, and government officials join us. Pastors, lawyers, doctors, and administrators are here. From university students to grandmothers, we are breathing life into everything around us.

Technology has transformed my life, and it is transforming the lives of my Congolese sisters. Because of you who are now listening to us, women who live in the worst place in the world to be a woman – women who have lived in silence all their lives – are finding their voice, telling their stories, and sharing their solutions for peace. Women are finding confidence they didn't know they had. They are finding answers that have been hidden within them all along. They are discovering that in them, in their hearts, in their thoughts, are the solutions for all that troubles Congo. With the power to create a future for themselves, their children, and their community, they are realizing they need to assert themselves. The answer needs to be present in the Congo. Peace needs to be present. Women need to be present.

Being present isn't always as easy as it sounds. Coming to the center is a hardship for most. After all, to society around us, we’re ‘just’ women. All around us seems to be in our care; no matter our age or duties, women seem to have all the responsibility. So there’s certainly no time to ‘waste’ at the center. But Stephanie comes twice a week from Mwenga, which is a four hour bus ride away. And there are many from the organization Femme et Enfant en Danger (FED) who walk a dozen kilometers several times a week from Ciriri. We have quite a few women with disabilities making their way here as well, and a number of pregnant women.

There are still obstacles to overcome once we get here. We have 60 women who are making progress in our simple digital literacy class, where they learn to use a computer; these women have yet to go online. It’s all so intriguing and inviting, but can you imagine never having seen an automobile and then someone pulling up on what could barely be called a road, in a shiny new car, handing you the keys, and telling you it’s yours to take for a drive? It can be a little daunting. But we few are the privileged. Only 1.7% of people in Congo have access to this technology. And what portion of that 1.7% do you suppose are women? We know that’s not just the case in Congo, but throughout Africa, and many other developing countries of the world.

But through technology we’re changing our world. Our online petition for a peace solution got over 100,000 signatures. And people are still signing in solidarity, even though the US and UN have both appointed special envoys to Congo. Women with disabilities who were once confined to the sidelines are now doing business online at Shakoshi, a sewing co-op. And girl leaders are going into rural communities to raise awareness about women’s rights, touching on typically taboo subjects as only they can, touching hearts as only they can, and making a difference as only they can.

It’s so amazing to be here, all of one heart and one mind. We’ve all come a very long way to find ourselves here, and the distance we’ve traveled is our bond. “Here” is full of promise, of friends, of intention. The air is clear here. We can see our future from here. We’re all traveling together, circling the globe without a visa, without even a ticket. We show up at each other’s place and share our thoughts, our moments, our lives. And we have to say, it’s wonderful to be traveling the world with you.

About Neema Namadamu

Neema Namadamu has been an advocate for change since her teens when she hosted a weekly program on Congo’s national radio. Neema served in her province’s parliament and at the national level as technical adviser to Congo’s Minister of Gender and Family. Since returning home from Kinshasa to eastern DRC in 2007, she has actively advocated for peace, for women, for persons with disabilities, and for the greatly marginalized indigenous peoples. With World Pulse’s help, Neema opened a women’s media center in July of last year to teach digital literacy and facilitate online advocacy for members, who have named themselves the Maman Shujaa, or Hero Women, of Congo. Follow Neema and the Maman Shujaa at and on Facebook.

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Comment on this Editorial


Go Neema, keep inspiring everyone of us to stir change! The ripple is spreading like wild fire and I am truly inspired.

Blessings and Hugs, Greengirl

Technology is essential to women’s economic advancement and helps women to increase their productivity, create new entrepreneurial ventures, or otherwise access new income-generating pursuits.

What you have done for the women in DRC is so inspirational and a huge step towards enabling the women in your community to increase their opportunities, and strengthen their ability to be more successful economic actors, stronger leaders, and greater contributors to their families, communities, and domestic economies.

Thank you for your strong vision and commitment to the women in the DRC.

How wonderful, Neema. The internet has made it possible for all to acquire an education. TMaman Shujaa Media Center is a great and most powerful resource. The power of this most free form of press is immeasurable. WE THE PEOPLE will be heard!


congratulation Neema go on my sister and never give up because you are inspiring many women.notice that you have made a big step in making your dream come true.u said that you are not interested in making a litle noise but in making change and that is a reality now. we Maman shujaa are really proud of you. thank you for the vision you are creating in me. hugs

Mayele , Maman shujaa and World Pulse volunteer

Dear Neema,

I am so inspired by your bravery, courage and clear-eyed vision. I am so inspired by the depth of love and devotion you have for your countrywomen, and by your dedication to the empowerment of those who have been silenced, marginalized. Thank you for your amazing, powerful leadership. Like Greengirl says, the ripple is spreading. Your voice is reverberating around the world!

I wish you continued success in strengthening and expanding Maman Shujaa's mission. May Congolese/African women's access to computer-training and the internet continue to grow! May we do what we can to support each other and brighten each other's lives!

With Love, Susan

______________________________________________________________________________ "I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." -Hafiz

Je ne sait comment vous remercir et vous encourager pour cette grande initiative et responsabilité dont vous faites preuve. Nous femme du congo nous en avons vraiment profiter positivement en plaidant pour nos droits et vous promettons de continuer avec force et déterminations. courage maman nous sommes de coeur avec vous

Bénédicte Bulangalire; fille ambassadrice pour la paix

Thank you for your courage in working to promote peace and justice for women in the DRC. It is heartbreaking to hear the constant stream of abuses against women in the DRC. You and your group are a fine example of how change can and will happen when women co-operate and unite for change.

Onni Milne

Greetings ma, I hve a buisness idea that will creat jobs and will reduce the rathe high rate of unemployment in women.I need fund for the expansion of this buisness but I can't write a proposal, pls ma can't u help me with a sample of a good proposal?pls help me I camt write a proposal pls help. Christy


My best thing is to congrat you because you are able tout unite people Of all tribes through the Mama Shujaa média centre. Yes, we need peace, and Pearce without being together it's not possible. All that we do on the eath will be paid on the earth Just God gives you straingth to continue the job you have began.

Ubuntu !

THERESE( Maman Shujaa, Drc)

I read your compelling post with great interest. You have accomplished so much since I met you last year in Santa Fe. Keep encouraging the women of Bukavu. The world is listening.

With Great Respect Dick Matgen

All i can say is that you have awakened the power in the women in DRCongo, it has always been there laying inside of you. yes woman you are the gate of life. You should recognize the responsibility that comes with that. Now that you can express yourself, i your beloved child, i the nation of Congo, have hope and i can see the light shining at the end of the tunnel that has been dark for so long...

God bless you.

"always from good to better to best, don't give up"

chère Maman Neema,


votre journal du 17 novembre m'a particulièrement touché surtout pour son analyse et son fonds. je suis consciente que toutes les maman Shujaa sont conscientes de cette grande richesse et cette opportunité que nous offre le centre Maman SHUJAA; Dire que nous sommes si loin et pourtant si prêts, c'est une véritable réalité car à travers cette technologie qui nous est offerte, nous échangeons avec nos soeurs de tous les coins du monde. Encore une fois, nos sincères sentiments de gratitude.

La paix au Sud Kivu est une urgence et un besoin pour le développement de notre beau pays le Congo. Un pays touristique avec de grandes potentialités où la population souffre de misère depuis une décenie des guerres en répétitions, de pillages et de viols. Nous devons profiter de cette période déclarée de paix pour refaire tout ce qui a été détruit par la guerre,en commençant par l'accompagnement psychosocial de victimes de viol et violences sexuelles et basées sur le genre et porter un soutien aux initiatives locales de développement. Reconstruire l'histoire du Congo, à mon avis, c'est aimer d'abord ce beau pays, protéger son environnement et militer avec les gens de bonne volonté, se joindre avec nos soeurs héroïnes paysannes qui assurent la survie de tous les gens qui habitent en ville grâce à leur courage incomparable et leur dévouement. Pourquoi nous joindre à nos soeurs paysannes? Pour améliorer leur condition de vie par une nouvelle méthode culturale, pour augmenter leur production agricole car le nombre de consommateurs augmentent mais le rendement est toujours le même voire en baisse. Pour permettre à la fille de l'intérieur d'avoir un niveau d'études élevé. Pour promouvoir un leadership féminin en milieu rural qu'en ville. Il y a tant de raisons...

Encore une fois, mes sincères félicitations et à nous revoir pour en parler plus.

Jeannette Ciza Coordinatrice ADIFE SUD KIVU Centre Maman SHUJAA


Three words: Courageous, Versatile and Humane -- these are the three attributes to the post! In solidaritry, I join you...

Cheers, Shaheen


You have all left me speechless with your support and encouragement. Through tears of love and joy I want to hug you all.

Thank you to World Pulse for giving us this forum where we gather together from around the world, amplifying our voice as a beautiful, unified chorus of love, hope, and intention. We are creating our future my sisters, and how wonderful it is to see it emerging all around us.

See you all online!


Dearest Neema, I echo your thanks to World Pulse for giving us this incredible forum to make tangible our connection to each other. I love each of you!

______________________________________________________________________________ "I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." -Hafiz


Thank you for sharing the power of women sharing their voices in the Congo as well as the tremendous obstacles and determination that you and your fellow Congolese women have encountered. I fear that in too many places around the world women and girls are viewed as "just women and girls" but with our determination, creativity, and ability to network and empower one another, that is changing!