By: Chris Brew
Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to speak with Stewart Lunanga, one of the co-founders of CAMME (DRC), and recipient of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Fellowship, about his childhood, inspiration, and where he sees CAMME headed in the future. We are also pleased to announce that Stewart will be speaking at One World's reception on July 23rd in Atherton, CA.
What inspired you to start CAMME?
"My own life experience inspired me to start CAMME. I grew up in a period of war where the situation was really dangerous and we had to flee, and I also grew up with a single mother. Both of these situations helped me want to want to help my country. There is no future for the youth. There is no leadership. And that whats inspired me to start CAMME; for the children of the DR Congo."
How have you seen CAMME’s mission help the children of the DRC?
"From the creation of CAMME we started teaching exploited youth skills. We've been able to help more than 2,000 kids in the region. Some of them are entrepreneurs, some work in different workshops. We have noticed it’s been very impactful since we’ve been seeing the results of them in the communities we work with."
How did growing up in Bukavu affect your life?
"When I was growing up in Bukavu, it was in the period where we had the massive movement of refugees and Mobutu was in power. He’d sent all of the military from the western part [of the DRC] to the eastern part. They were able to commits all types of violence against the people. Afterwards, there was war. We had to leave, and people had to move from mountains to mountains."
What is one thing you would like Americans to know about the DRC?
"What I would like to tell Americans about the DRC, is that [the DRC] is a beautiful country. It is one of the richest countries in the world, but the population is poor. There is a lack of leadership, but we are trying to build a new legacy for the future Congo."
How has CAMME benefited from working with OWCF?
"Without OWCF I don’t know where we would be. Were using the platform to raise funds, [OWCF] has raised awareness of our program. My own experience is on the ground. I was able to travel for the first time from Congo to Uganda because OWCF last year. I had the experience of meeting with other leaders from other countries at a philanthropic conference, and this has given me a different perspective."
What would be a good way to help you and the mission of CAMME succeed?
"The [buildings] that are being built are helping CAMME to become more self-sufficient and helping us to succeed. I can really say we will have benefitted by being able to add more buildings for classrooms. I think we will see real growth in the next 3 years."
You can read more about Stewart, CAMME's mission, and how you can help here.