Matumaini, a self-made radio engineer in Muheto camp, North Kivu
Copyright: WFP/Djaounsede Pardon Madjiangar
As armed conflict continues to drive people from their homes in eastern DRC, one displaced man in the east of the country has used his ingenuity to cobble together a radio station from old bits and pieces. He is just one of some 126,000 people displaced by insecurity in North Kivu province to whom WFP is currently providing food assistance.
On top of the hill overlooking Muheto village one can see a long antenna which is connected to a set of batteries, a radio receiver and a microphone inside a makeshift shelter. To the displaced people (IDPs) who live here in the Muheto camp, this contraption is their local radio station. From it, is broadcasted the voice of Celestin Matumaini, himself an IDP, over a radius of 10 km in North Kivu’s Masisi territory.
“They’ve stolen everything from us but they cannot steal our knowledge and technical know-how,” says Matumaini, a self-made radio engineer, whose village was looted in the aftermath of fighting between the Congolese army and a rebel militia in March 2014.
A father of one, the 30-year-old man lives now in Muheto, in a makeshift shelter with his family.
Matumaini worked as a radio repair man back in his village KIBIRIZO. He had taught himself how to fix radios and all manner of electronic devices. Not a bad feat for someone who has had his share of bad luck. His mother died when he was only 15 and, later on, he lost contact with his father. One Thursday morning in March 2014, he was repairing a wireless set when gunshots sounded in from around Kibirizo. At first, people thought it was drunken soldiers letting off some steam. But then the shooting intensified and started getting closer. Matumaini was among thousands of people who fled to Muheto, about 70 km northwest of Goma, North Kivu’s provincial capital.
For the moment, he is relying on WFP food to keep him and his small family going. Matumaini is not letting misfortune hold him back. He is a man with a mission and big plans. Collecting wires and batteries around the site, he succeeded in setting up his makeshift radio station for other IDPs like himself. He broadcasts a mixture of music and announcements on subjects ranging from good hygiene to social cohesion.
“Today, my radio station covers a small area around the camp,” he says. “But I hope that one day peace will be restored and I’ll be able to broadcast to the whole country on TV as well as on radio.”
Thanks to voluntary contributions from USA, Canada, France, UK, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey, WFP is currently providing monthly food assistance in North Kivu to more than 200,000 food-insecure people, of whom some 126,000 are displaced.