The refugee camps of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, are set in a landscape of catastrophe. Smoke from the smouldering Nyiragongo volcano darkens the sky above thousands of crude shelters across the lava beds around Lake Kivu.
It is called the "killer lake" for the deadly gases beneath – and for the thousands of bodies it has buried from 18 years of violence and conflict on its shores. Amidst the suffering, logistics officer Franck Aynes discovered a remarkable human vitality that somehow also thrived, especially among the children. Inspired, he worked over the course of a year to compose, perform, shoot and produce a music video that just debuted on YouTube. The ballad is dedicated to the kids whose ready smiles offer "a gleam of hope" in a desperate land.
Franck, 33, who joined WFP four years ago after a stint in air operations for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), worked in the Goma camps from 2009 to 2011. With his trusty guitar, he wrote the music and lyrics during evenings and weekends in Goma and while on holidays. He recruited a handful of church gospel singers for a choir and two local musicians who were crucial to blending the Congolese elements into the music video – Alain Tumani, who sang and played the guitar with Franck, and Sammy Mubere Mapezi, who sang background and played a home-made traditional Congolese harp. Franck first recorded and blended the music on his laptop, and later refined and produced the song in his uncle's music studio in his native France, paying all costs himself. The finished product was assembled by a professional communications agency, and is what you can see below.
Enjoy, and bravo Franck!