Making contact with Sister Catherine Mutindi, who provides support to child miners in Kolwezi, DR Congo
From: Catherine Mutindi [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 23 March 2017 14:47
To: Working to help child cobalt miners <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Raising funds for children who mine cobalt
Greetings from Kolwezi. Great reading you, and thanks for finding time to get back, and for your solidarity.
I am reading your initial mail and thinking: what a perfect grasp you got of the situation here of Dorsen and thousands more.
True, some of these experiences, and particularly of these so vulnerable kids, will make hearts bleed. We are/I am working in this context, now for the fifth year; I will never get used to such pain and misery for a daily life. It is among the worst forms of injustice/exploitation that exist. At the same time, I am keenly aware of my being part of this sin, at least by being a consumer of some of the end products.
We are most encouraged that you would be willing to partner in this work; your support in any form is most welcome. The need is just overwhelming.
You ideas about making artisanal mining less risky are brilliant. At the moment, I assure you no body looks into that. As for the corporates (as well as the government), each is fully occupied on how much more to reap. Even getting the very minimal support from them one has to be prepared to waste lots of time in revolving about denial, and forever ‘studying the situation’!
I don’t know how much reading time you got, I will attach herein for you our end year report 2015-17, mainly made for Misean Cara who have faithfully funded us (some aspects, but very good enough) since we started the mission here. I will also attach for you our strategic document, about to expire – by end this year – as well as our film ‘Maisha’… These much at this point will give you a fair grasp of what we are up to. Besides this main Programme, we have activities in other 5 ‘satellite’ mining sites, doing ‘lighter’ model – cost wise – of protection that does not involve feeding. The kids in the three sites are very vulnerable too, and still back to the mines for food… Complex indeed. So any hope of whatever the amount would support even with their learning materials, etc.
Let me cut down the long story, let you read and hope to hear from you
Yes, we have an account but we would prefer via Western Union in such a case. We use Eco Bank for such.
The Activities of the Good Shepherd Programme in Kolwezi are documented in the film “Maisha A New Life Outside the Mines”, published on October 31 2015. This film won a special award, on October 2016, as Best Ethnographic Film granted by Wildlife Vaasa 2016 and the Award to the best Documentary Short Film on the Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival on December 1st 2016.
Let me know any observations you might want to make.
Once again, many thanks.
My first email to Sister Catherine Mutindi
Sent: 10 March 2017 15:26
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ <email@example.com>
Subject: Raising funds for children who mine cobalt
Dear Sister Catherine
Hello from England. I found information about you and your organization from the Amnesty International report: This Is What We Die For, published January 2016 (page 32).
Recently, I watched an informative, upsetting report by Alex Crawford of Sky News, showing the human rights abuses of children mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One boy, called Dorsen, exemplified the graphic misery of the exploited child. It was heartbreaking to watch.
I am shocked that world renowned corporates such as Huayou Cobalt, Apple, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft, are not practicing due diligence. It appears corporates are collectively exploiting extremely vulnerable informal adult miners, known as creusseurs, and children, and the corporates are trapped in a culture of passivity and denial. Whilst cobalt mines are no place for children whose welfare should be catered for with education and decent food, creusseurs are working in deadly dangerous conditions and deserve investment, equipment and education in safe mining practice.
As far as I understand it, the corporates’ idea of due diligence is to hope to put an end to buying cobalt from informal Congolese mines. This may solve the problem of due diligence, but creates alternative problems for the informal cobalt miner; that of unemployment. People endure these dire conditions because they need to eat.
I have begun a campaign to urge corporates to take a moral stance on this. Cobalt mined by children and creusseurs is traded and ends up in mainstream production. The corporates need to take a moral lead and fund a welfare program, not only to extract children from the workforce and provide for their welfare; but to invest in the creusseurs with equipment, safe practice and fair trade. This could be achieved at the point of sale of technical equipment containing lithium-ion batteries by adding a “care charge”, raising money for redirection to welfare programs in the cobalt mining communities of the DRCongo.
Knowing your work involves offering child cobalt miners a school place and a daily meal, I wonder if I can contribute to your work by raising funds and awareness? I have a GoFundMe page and have raised, to date, £230, with more privately pledged. Unfortunately, this method of raising funds results in a 5% surcharge. If I can have a way of paying you directly, I can avoid this surcharge. Do you have a bank account I can transfer money into? In particular, I am keen to fund programs to relieve children who would otherwise spend their days in the mines.
I look forward to hearing from you. Any advice you can give me as to how I can effectively support your work will be welcome.
With love and all good wishes
These are links to relevant Internet sites:
www.childrenplay.org A new website to inform of child cobalt miners. Also a campaigning platform
www.twitter.com/MeetDorsen The Twitter feed to highlight the situation of Dorsen, and children like him.
Information is also shared with a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dorsenandfriends/
Fundraising page: https://www.gofundme.com/saving-dorsen-and-his-friends