Yesterday morning, I stumbled out of bed at 5:30am and onto the back of a moto headed for the main market to photograph two of my multimedia students working on their first video story. Surrounded by the wonderful cool that precedes the blistering heat of the day, I arrived to watch my students film the morning slaughter of the cows—an important piece of b-roll footage for a story about a local butcher.
As they worked, I was struck for the hundredth time by the sheer number of untold stories here in Congo—not just stories about the war, violence, poverty, etc. But stories about everyday life. Stories about education and women and agriculture, stories about children and religion and industry.
Although I wish at times that I had another month to continue teaching, I see that the practical skills I have been able to share with my students will enable them to produce meaningful multimedia journalism long after I leave. In a place where journalists face constant danger in pursuit of their work, I wonder at times if I am leading my students astray—encouraging them to pursue the truth at all costs, yet forgetting that the cost in a country like this may someday be their lives.
Walking to the market yesterday morning, I asked Esaie, a student who was captured alongside his family in 1997 by rebel soldiers and held for three weeks in the forest until his escape, if he worried about his safety as a journalist. Without hesitation, he laughed and said, “Esaie may be here this morning but gone this afternoon. I don’t fear death.”