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And The Work Continues

Mallory Minter | Posted September 21st, 2012 | Africa

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  • Overcome Jetlag –  Complete
  • Move In/Get Settled in Boston – Complete
  • Start my Second Year of Graduate School – Complete
  • Sincerely Miss Africa’s Great Lakes Region – In Progress

Life these past few weeks looks very different than it did a month ago. Instead of attending human rights trainings and falling asleep under mosquito nets, I am spending my hours in class and, well…sleeping less.

However, fortunately, some things stay the same. I am delighted and honored to be able to continue working with both Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (IPHR) and LiCoProMa throughout this next year!

Over the past few months, I’ve mentioned a great deal about the organization and work of IPHR, but I have not done this for LiCoProMa.

Below is a brief overview of LiCoProMa, the challenges it faces, and one of the driving members of the organization– Francis Mbembe.

About LiCoProMa

LiCoProMa stands for Lique Congolaise pour la Promotion des Droits des Personnes Vulnerables et/ou Marginalisées (in English: Congolese League for the Promotion of Rights of Vulnerable and Marginalized Persons) and is a non-profit organization that runs solely on volunteer donations. Founded in 1998, during the Second Congo War, LiCoProMa was originally created to provide relief to the massive human rights violations occurring in Kisangani (northeastern DRC) at that time.

Since 1998, LiCoProMa has moved and evolved. Today, LiCoProMa is based out of Goma, DRC, and works to serve the following communities in the following ways*:

  • Albinos - providing education on albinism to primary, secondary, and university students in Kisangani in a manner that fosters greater acceptance and societal inclusion of albinos.

Dr. Matthieu Bokota and LiCoProMa’s staff  working with the albino community in Kisangani

  • Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) community– providing access to needed physical and mental healthcare resources, affordable legal services, and a safe space. LiCoProMa also works to provide career & health education that will help LGBTI members in Goma get off the streets** and make wise, sustainable life decisions that do not daily compromise their health.
  • Individuals who are handicap – providing the basic resources these individuals need to get around, whether that be transportation, personal carriers, or care products.

Francis Mbembe with Mwenyemali. Thanks to LiCoProMa’s help with hospital bills and the purchase of the vehicle displayed, Mwenyemali now runs his own transportation business and is able to support his family.

  • Pygmies – providing basic education desperately needed by this community.  At present, pygmies in DRC belong to a rural-based community that is often neglected, isolated, and bereft of the social resources offered to the greater society.
  • Individuals with HIV/AIDS – providing education on personal care and access to needed medication.
  • Young mothers – providing mothers with the career and maternal education they need to help themselves and their children grow into successful citizens.

Despite LiCoProMa’s fervent work and valiant efforts, it faces many challenges when trying to accomplish these goals.


LiCoProMa’s #1 need – money. This is probably no surprise to anyone in the NGO world who knows how valuable and difficult money is to come by. LiCoProMa needs money to supplement the travel costs of health care workers and lawyers, to complete a guarded compound where LGBTI members can safely seek shelter, to supplement the volunteer time of lead staff members, and to pay for the healthcare supplies necessary for offering routine health checks.

However, while acknowledging this  predominant need, LiCoProMa also realizes the importance of self-sufficiency and innovation. Thus, the members of LiCoProMa continue to seek alternative solutions to their financial shortcomings. For example, LiCoProMa has recently collaborated with a lawyer and a doctor in Goma who are willing to offer their services for free on a very restricted schedule. While these services are limited, they are nevertheless a great contribution towards realizing LiCoProMa’s mission: “Pour que cesse la discrimination” (in English: “To end discrimination”).

In addition to financial challenges, LiCoProMa also faces community challenges – most of which stem from the community’s hostility toward LiCoProMa’s work with LGBTI members.

A few months ago, LiCoProMa’s office was burned down because of their association with the LGBTI community. Furthermore, LiCoProMa recently conducted an anonymous, randomized survey on how members of the Goma community respond to LGBTI members. The result: approximately 85% of the 1000 people surveyed expressed hostility towards the LGBTI community.

Clear examples of this hostility include LiCoProMa’s LGBTI members being frequently chased and/or attacked because of their identity.  In fact, sadly, after my visit to Goma in July, Carine (pictured below) was attacked for hosting a discussion with LGBTI members and white people (e.g. – me) in her restaurant.

Carine (in green) was chased and beaten from her restaurant for hosting white people (e.g. – me) and LGBTI members

While LiCoProMa realizes that the long term solution to this discrimination requires internal organization, self-agency, determination, and patience, they also believe an appropriate short term response is to provide a safe, guarded, compound for LGBTI members to retreat to, as needed.


One of the leading-, and founding-, members of LiCoProMa is Francis Mbembe.***

In addition to being the Principal Coordinator of LiCoProMa, Francis is also one of the most determined, jovial,  humanitarian individuals I have ever met.

Francis talking with a member of the albino community

In 1998, at the cusp of the Second Congo War and the human tragedy that accompanied it, Francis enrolled in school to study Human Rights. During this time, Francis learned the following:

  • Every person has human rights – including the right to have their human rights respected.
  • Sometimes, people need information on how to protect their human rights.

Over the past 14 years, Francis has devoted himself tirelessly to the work of LiCoProMa. In addition to managing the responsibilities that come with raising a family and maintaining a job, Francis donates all the time he can to support the marginalized and vulnerable in Goma. It’s his passion — and something one quickly picks up on within minutes of meeting him.

Francis’ consistent concern and care for others are inspiring, as is his proclivity toward action. For example, just a few weeks ago, after visiting an IDP camp in Kanyaruchinya, Francis went back to that camp to pass out as much rice and pens as he was personally able to afford.

Francis and I stopping to pose for a photo (that’s Goma in the background)

Francis believes that a slow, persistent, paced fight leads to eventual success…and Francis is fighting.


* This is a very brief overview. If you would like more information on any one of these communities and the services LiCoProMa is working to provide, please email me at mminter@advocacynet.org

**At present, many LGBTI members are discriminated against in all life capacities and see prostitution as the only possible career path to putting food on the table. However, prostitution has severe and negative consequences that require many who identify as L,G,B,T, or I to risk their lives daily in order to live one more day.

***LiCoProMa is organized into branches, with one person coordinating any given sector. For example,  LiCoProMa’s Nadia Kanyankore  is the Coordinator for the LGBTI sector, Dr. Matthieu Bokota is the Coordinator for the Albino sector, etc. Francis is the Principal Coordinator that oversees the work of all LiCoProMa sectors.

One Response to “And The Work Continues”

  1. Andrew says:

    That’s great news Mallory! It’s so cool that the peace fellowship has led to a longer-term relationship between you and IPHR. I remember LiCoProMa from one of your previous posts, thanks for laying out their mission and targeted stakeholders. Hopefully this added visibility will help them with their funding goals!

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Mallory Minter | Posted August 23rd, 2012 | Africa

After 29 hours in transit, 4 flights, and numerous neck pains from dozing off in not-quite-the-right position, I’m home.

It’s a mixed bag. I’m glad to be home and know that, in fact, I need to be home in order to finish my degree ASAP. But, at the same time, I deeply miss the people I met and the experiences I had in Rwanda.

Luckily, physical distance is no longer the great divider that it once was. Over the next year and hopefully longer, I will continue to work with IPHR and LiCoProMa.

(It probably doesn’t need to be said that I will also continue to keep in touch with and Facebook stalk the friends I’ve made.)

After reading my blog and learning about IPHR and LiCoProMa, if you would like to support them in any way, please let me know. I will happily connect you in whatever way best!


(Kinyarwanda translation: We are together)

5 Responses to “Home”

  1. Natasha says:

    Hi Mallory,
    Welcome home! As a new intern at AP, I have been reading blogs all morning, and I am so impressed by the wonderful work you and the other fellows are doing. Supporting the women in Rwanda is a crucial step to furthering human development in the region and the work you did with IPHR was incredible!

  2. Andrew says:

    It’s great that you’ll be able to keep helping out IPHR stateside, and keep in touch with all the people you met over there. Thanks so much for all your great work, welcome home and good luck with that degree!

  3. Stephen Clark says:

    Welcome back! I\’m glad you had a good experience and that you will continue contributing the gifts that you have.

  4. Amanda says:


  5. Hey Mallory,
    The people here will miss you too. It was a great pleasure meeting you and getting to know you. You’re such a inspiring person. We learned a bunch of stuff from you and I am sire you collected a great experience as well.
    Like you said, physical distance will not be the divider as we’ll surely keep in touch and work together. IPHR had an amazing intern this summer. We were lucky to have you. Keep being you!

    Like you said, Turikumwe for sure!

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Women’s Progress is Human Progress

Mallory Minter | Posted August 13th, 2012 | Africa

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IPHR believes that human rights education is instrumental in creating a society defined by justice and peaceful coexistence.

IPHR also acknowledges the evident need for women’s rights education in proliferating human rights.

Women’s rights education is critical. This education lets a woman know she has legally-defensible, just options. This education is what determines, for example, whether a woman claims what is legally entitled to her after her marriage ends or whether she instead walks away with nothing, taking to the streets to make ends meet.

Thus, in quest of both augmenting justice and women’s welfare (and, on a larger scale, human welfare…after all, women’s progress is human progress), IPHR recently conducted a human rights training for widows.

During this training, widows were explained their family rights, rights to succession, and more. (To read more about women’s rights in Rwanda, select this link — page 10 is where it really gets good!)

At the end of the training, these widows were also given free consultation regarding any legal dilemmas they currently face.

Select the photos below to be taken to the Flickr Album containing more snap shots from this event. 

Human Rights Training- Widows
Human Rights Training- Widows

Human Rights Training- Widows
Human Rights Training- Widows

Human Rights Training- Widows
Human Rights Training- Widows

Human Rights Training- Widows
Human Rights Training- Widows

Group Shot: Human Rights Training- Widows
Group Shot: Human Rights Training- Widows

5 Responses to “Women’s Progress is Human Progress”

  1. Heather Webb says:

    Hi Mallory,

    I could not agree more – women’s progress IS human progress. Through my own fellowship in the area of women’s rights I realize that awareness raising efforts targeted to men need to be framed to show how improving women’s lives, improves men’s lives and whole families’ lives.

    Great pics!

  2. Mallory Minter says:

    Hi! I’m happy to hear that you find this site useful. I’ve elaborated on women’s rights and the current education gap in past posts. In past posts, I’ve also given a comprehensive rundown of what this human rights training entails. What other information should I include? Please let me know what other information I can provide and I will be happy to do so. And thank you for your advice! Any advice that works towards making this site better and further helping IPHR is very valued!

  3. Over Here says:

    This is a pretty decent post, but it is a little bit not enough… This is a big topic and much more can be said on it, don’t you think so? I really like reading longer and more informative articles and I consider this would be appreciated by your other visitors, too. Also this can have good effect on your site’s penetration. Think about that… Just some well-meaning advice, I find your website useful and precious after all.

  4. Annette Scarpitta says:

    Bravo to IPHR for this training and to you, Mallory, for reporting on it. Fantastic, clear photos!

  5. Andrew says:

    Empowerment starts with awareness and education, and it’s great that IPHR is giving these women the opportunity to claim what’s theirs and take control of their lives!

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More Free Legal Advice

Mallory Minter | Posted August 8th, 2012 | Africa

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This week, IPHR’s Yves volunteered his free legal advice to residents in Kibilizi, Rwanda.

Yves provided free advice on various issues ranging from the legal registration of children to delayed court executions.

(Select the photos below to enlarge them.)

Kibilizi - Getting Ready to Receive Free Legal Advice
Kibilizi - Getting Ready to Receive Free Legal Advice

Kibilizi - Free Legal Advice
Kibilizi - Free Legal Advice

Kibilizi - Waiting to Receive Free Legal Advice
Kibilizi - Waiting to Receive Free Legal Advice

Kibilizi - Pausing for a Photo while Waiting to Receive Free Legal Advice
Kibilizi - Pausing for a Photo while Waiting to Receive Free Legal Advice

One Response to “More Free Legal Advice”

  1. Andrew says:

    Cool photos! The church is beautiful, and it’s great that Yves can help to run IPHR as well as actually take part in the work in the field.

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LGBTI in Goma, DRC

Mallory Minter | Posted August 7th, 2012 | Africa

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You may have heard about the guerilla warfare near Goma, DRC.

This warfare has been covered by CNN, BBC News, Aljazeera, and many other news sources.

Despite the increased coverage and genuine urgency surrounding the fighting, if you ask a local in Goma about the battle, this is the response you will get:

C’est seulement la guerre. (English Translation: It’s only the war).

In Goma, there’s poverty, corruptioninternally displaced persons facing choleraHIV/AIDS, unemployment, a multitude of discriminationlack of infrastructure, and the list goes on. A battle between rebel forces approximately 20km away is too distant of a concern. Within Goma, everyday life is a battle all its own.

Goma, DRC

This past weekend, a fellow coworker and I went to visit IPHR’s partner organization in Goma. This partner organization is called LiCoProMa (Ligue Congolais pour la Protection des Personnes Vulnérables et Marginalisés) (English Translation: Congolese League for the Protection of Vulnerable and Marginalized Persons).

– About LiCoProMa –

LiCoProMa works with youth, pygmies, people with albinism, people with disabilities, and the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) community in and around Goma. LiCoProMa’s specific mission is to ensure that members of these vulnerable and marginalized communities can practice their right to live free from targeted discrimination and injustice.

Within the LGBTI community, LiCoProMa provides a space where people are accepted, where they can exchange knowledge that is not found elsewhere in society, and where they can mobilize and learn how to actively stand up for their rights.* In the future, LiCoProMa hopes to also open a community center where it can begin providing trainings for LGBTI members on entrepreneurship, financial stability, and the importance of personal acceptance.**

While in Goma, Amani (my coworker) and I sat down with three members of the LGBTI community who are working with LiCoProMa to stop the brutal discrimination of LGBTI members in DRC.

– Barbara, Carine, and Franck –

Barbara is a 28 year old hairdresser in Goma who is transgender. She has been open about her sexual orientation since the age of 14 and has consequently faced much discrimination. For example, Barbara recently opened a restaurant on festival grounds (this festival is only open for about a month during the school holidays). During these past few weeks, Barbara has been chased away from her restaurant because she is attracted to men. Two pictures of her have also been posted on Goma’s Wall of Shame (hosted by a local radio TV show, this wall displays all that is considered to be terrible about Goma – including mangled dogs, street beatings, political corruption, etc.).

Barbara is an educated woman with a modest dream of one day working in an office. But, as things are now, this dream will never be realized. Because Barbara is something that society refuses to accept, her ability to live her dream and to be a valuable contribution to Goma’s community is forbidden.

Barbara in front of her restaurant that she was chased away from just days before.

Carine is a lesbian. She also owns a restaurant on festival grounds. Just last week, a local attacked her with a glass bottle, shattering it on her hand and leaving deep wounds.

Franck also identifies as transgender and is attracted to men. As we talk, her listless body lacks any sort of strength or hope for the future.  Like Barbara, Franck too is very well educated. She wants to be a teacher in Goma, but she knows this is not a possibility. She has tried time and again to use her education to educate others, but no one will hire her. She is transgender and, therefore, perceived as an outcast without any societal value to offer.

The type of discrimination and violence endured by Barbara, Carine, and Franck is common. In fact, just a few days ago one of their dear friends was branded (with hot iron) for being gay. The word branded on this man’s back: “Pédé” (English Translation: “Fag”).

– Discrimination in Society –

 According to the members of LiCoProMa, there are approximately 3000 self-identifying LGBTI members in Goma that they are aware of. No one talks about alternative sexual orientation though – not even most of those who self-identify as something other than heterosexual. Instead, they hide themselves, internally trying to reconcile who they are with who society forbids them to be.

Sexual orientations other than heterosexual are taboo in Goma. If you live in Goma and want to survive, not only can you not be LGBT or I (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex), but you also cannot associate with anyone who is LGBT or I. According to the members of LiCoProMa, ex-patriots (many of whom come from countries that respect the human rights of all persons) are told that if they are seen associating with a gay person, they can be sentenced to two years in prison.

Overlap between the warfare and discrimination against the LGBTI community does exist.  In fact, according to members of LiCoProMa, neighbors have threatened that, if the warfare enters Goma and all measures of social accountability are withdrawn, then they will kill those identifying as LGBT or I before the soldiers can reach them.

LiCoProMa itself has also endured severe backlash for its work with the LGBTI community. Just last month, its office was burned down.

– Prohibition on Personal Growth –

 In addition to the blatant discrimination against the LGBTI community and its supporters in Goma, another severe concern is Goma’s prohibition on the education of LGBTI issues. Because society persecutes anyone who is not “normal” (read: heterosexual), education on other types of sexual orientation is nonexistent. And, thus, those with characteristics falling outside the stringent parameters of heterosexuality are left defenseless and confused.

Imagine having feelings that no one in society will address or will even acknowledge to exist. Imagine the isolation you would feel and the confusion over how to deal with these feelings. Imagine the struggle, desperation and self-torture you would experience over who you are.

This discrimination in Goma against LGBTI members is not only demonstrated through external, brutal violence. This discrimination extends well into a person’s soul – mutilating one’s sense of truth and stunting one’s personal growth.

 Left to Right: Nadia – a Leader of LiCoProMa, Carine (see her right hand), and me

– The Wall of Shame –

 During our meeting with the Barbara, Carine, and Franck, crowds surreptitiously began to fill the restaurant stalls beside of us – possibly spying in quest of knowing what a white person is doing talking to LGBTI members. Furthermore, as we left the festival area, some Congolese having a drink at a nearby table stopped us to ask how we liked the photos posted on the Wall of Shame (mentioned above).

I didn’t respond. However, if I could go back in time, I would have told these Congolese people that, in many ways, I think the Wall of Shame is very good. It shows that people are keenly aware of their community and the injustices present in it. However, I would also tell them that, in many ways, the Wall of Shame is a destructive abomination and catalyst of injustice. It goes beyond constructively promoting better human welfare to lacerating human life.

And, specifically regarding the photos of Barbara that are posted on the Wall of Shame, I would emphasize this to the inquisitive individuals:

Human rights are human rights. Every individual belonging to the homo sapien species is entitled to the right to live one’s life in a manner that does not thwart another from doing so.

*Human rights here are defined as the right to live one’s life as one chooses and in a manner that does not inflict serious harm on another person or prevent another  person from pursuing their own life path.

** The realization of LiCoProMa’s future goals is dependent on financial means and support. If you would like more information about LiCoProMa and/or how you can help, please email me at mminter@advocacynet.org


4 Responses to “LGBTI in Goma, DRC”

  1. I am proud of the work we did in Goma. It felt good to be there with LICOPROMA and listening to them was like listening to an unbelievable story. This was a powerful experience because most of the time those communities do not even believe there can be anything to do for them. Seeing us there, at least listening to them even without much promises was something for them, I could tell. We’ll surely keep doing our best!

  2. Heather Webb says:


    This is such an interesting entry, glad you were able to visit this partner organization and learn about it. What an important issue and how brave of these individuals for working for change.

  3. iain says:

    Brave organization and strong blog. Glad that you were able to write this profile, Mallory. Not an easy time to be in Goma, either.

  4. Andrew says:

    What AP and its peace fellows prove is that there are countless small, dedicated organizations making a big difference for their stakeholders on a shoestring budget. It’s inspiring to think of what they could do with more resources, and that’s why it’s so cool that at least some of them now have a platform from which people from other countries can hear about their work. Thanks for letting us know about LiCoProMa’s extremely important work in Goma!

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A Bedtime Story

Mallory Minter | Posted August 2nd, 2012 | Africa

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The Creation of IPHR

 A bedtime story that inspires and reignites a passion for life*

November 2001. School work continues to grow more intense as students anxiously anticipate their upcoming inter-semester break.

Elvis Mbembe Binda, Yves Sezirahiga, Raymond Ngamage, Paulin Muhozi, and Tom Mulisa have just begun their first year of Law School at the National University of Rwanda. As classes march on, these soon-to-be IPHR leaders frequently find themselves involved in intense debate.

“What is the meaning of justice?”

“How do you enforce due process?”

“What is peace?”

These are just a few of the questions ardently discussed by the lawyers-in-training.

In order to ensure that these debates are fully exploited, Elvis, Yves, Raymond, Paulin, Tom, and others decide it’s best to move the discussion from the classroom to the common room.

Every other week, these inquisitive students get together and talk. Their talks span a range of topics — from human rights to peace to democracy. Every member has his/her own opinion on the issue being debated. This safe space allows each student to both express their thoughts and to learn from their fellow classmates – classmates who will one day work together within Rwanda’s legal forces to promote the realization of justice in East Africa.

– Phase 1: TPD –

As time passes, the student discussion group grows larger and larger, incorporating many students from surrounding countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The group grows so large, in fact, that it has to be officially registered as a student organization by the National University of Rwanda. And so, Tous pour la Paix et le Developpement (TPD) (English translation: All for Peace and Development) is created.

After just being established, TPD quickly begins to thrive. Local leaders and university lecturers frequent the meetings, making presentations and leading discussions. However, with the inclusion of more students and professor-led presentations, TPD somehow begins to change. It no longer focuses on human rights as it once had in the past.

In response, the to-be-members of IPHR search for another outlet to discuss human rights. They begin a partnership with Rwanda United Nations Association (RUNA), which lets them use RUNA as a platform for informally organizing any event they feel to be relevant.

– Phase 2: FECS –

As the end of their four-year long Law Program nears, students began making arrangements to move out. Some are headed to Kigali and others to DRC or Burundi. However, despite the ever-present pull of diverging life paths, the members of the student discussion group are not ready to sever their ties. Thus, Forum d’Echanges pour la Cohesion Social (FECS) (English translation: Exchange Forum for Social Cohesion) is born.

FECS creates a platform where young adults in Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda can share their experiences about peace. And, because of the region’s ongoing recovery from The Great War of Africa (which involved nine African countries — Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, Sudan, Namibia, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi), the platform proves very relevant and readily accepted.  However, like TPD, FECS also quickly begins to part from its focus on human rights, leaving a void to be filled.

– Phase 3: IPHR –

In 2007, Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (IPHR) is formally established by the Nyarugenge district. Four years later, IPHR also receives government authorization to operate as an International Non-Government Organization (INGO).

As has (hopefully) been clearly communicated in past blog posts, IPHR is a human-rights focused non-profit with a  mission:  “To equip communities and individuals living in Africa’s Great Lakes Region with the Human Rights knowledge and Good Governance skills needed to build a global culture of peace.”

In order to accomplish this mission, IPHR actively provides free legal defense to vulnerable populations, offers free education on human rights, and provides basic training to local leaders on the principles of good governance.

The idea is to create a system of accountability – one where citizens in Africa’s Great Lakes Region are educated enough to insist upon legal defense of their rights and where local leaders are trained on how to properly uphold the law.

– Phase 4: The Future –

IPHR has big dreams for the future.

IPHR hopes to organize a Youth Camp where it will teach youth ages 20 and below on how to solve conflict without the use of violence. Using this Youth Camp as a spring board, IPHR also hopes to establish peace clubs in secondary schools.

In addition to training youth on non-violent conflict resolution, IPHR is currently working to establish a Mobile Legal Aid Clinic. This Mobile Legal Aid Clinic will provide advice to poor individuals living in rural areas – individuals who otherwise would not have the means to gain access to legal advice or defense.

A Mediation Center is also high on IPHR’s list of priorities. This center will allow citizens to solve their own disputes with the guide of a mediator and the legal authority of a court judgment. Additional positive side effects of establishing a Mediation Center include both a reduction in the backlog of cases awaiting court trial and faster dispute settlements — which correlates with happier, more productive citizens.

– Phase 3.5: Getting to Phase 4–

Of course, in order to accomplish these visions, IPHR needs help.

Specifically, IPHR needs three things: Money, Volunteers, and Partnerships.

At present, IPHR does not have a central office nor does it have any paid staff. All members of IPHR work pro-bono. However, to really get IPHR on its feet and working at full capacity, it needs an office in which to get organized and at least two permanent staff members to handle daily administration needs and follow-up on projects. IPHR also needs money to buy a car for transportation in order to transform the much needed Mobile Legal Aid Clinic from idea into reality.

In addition to money, IPHR need volunteers. IPHR needs willing souls with large hearts who have some expertise to offer in law, human rights, conflict resolution, communications, organizational development, and/or technology. IPHR needs international ambassadors that will help them promote their cause so that they can effectively implement their mission.

Lastly, IPHR needs partnerships. IPHR knows there is a great deal of strength in relationships – both personal and professional (though, let’s be honest, in human rights work that which is professional is also most personal). Thus, IPHR needs other organizations that it can team up with and that will, together, work towards a future defined by justice and peaceful coexistence.

– How to Help –

If you would like to help IPHR increase its capacity by donating money, please do so by selecting this link. At the bottom of the page you will find a Donate Button with a yellow box positioned to the left of it. Within the yellow box, please enter any amount you would like to donate. Once you feel comfortable with your donation sum, please select the Donate Button and follow the proceeding directions. All money submitted through this mechanism will go straight to IPHR.

Furthermore, if you would like to volunteer or partner with IPHR, please feel free to send an email to me (mminter@advocacynet.org) or to info@iphr-ipdh.org (or both!). We will be happy to respond to your email as soon as possible.

–Photo Flashbacks –

IPHR Then: Founding members of IPHR, circa 2002

IPHR Now:  Founding members of IPHR, circa 2012

Elvis, Paulin, Raymond, Yves, and Tom (from top-left to bottom-right)

Founding Members Elvis, Paulin, Raymond, Yves, and Tom (from top-left to bottom-right)

* This blog entry is entirely based on fact, although some sort of artistic license has been taken regarding the story’s composition. Actually, I wanted to add an element of love to make this post all the more captivating, but that would have been a complete fabrication and I decided it best to uphold the integrity of history.

One Response to “A Bedtime Story”

  1. Andrew says:

    Awesome rundown of IPHR’s history! I especially like how whenever the organizations/groups they founded started moving away from the core focus on human rights, they did not just go with the flow but insisted on getting back to the issue that mattered most to them. They did not allow their message to get co-opted, which is inspiring. Great blog! My respect for IPHR grows every time I read your pieces about them.

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Meet Mukamuhire – A Film

Mallory Minter | Posted July 26th, 2012 | Africa

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Introducing…my first short film!

This 4-minute film details the work of the Legal Aid Clinic – one of the many venues to which IPHR freely donates its services.

Specifically, this film captures the story of one woman, Mukamuhire. Here, Mukamuhire explains why she has traveled three days to the Legal Aid Clinic, the situation that brought her there,  and what help she has received. Mukamuhire also tells what she thinks about the idea of a Mobile Legal Aid Clinic – an initiative that IPHR is strongly pursuing and hopes to implement soon, once they have the needed resources.

This film was shot on location in Butare, Rwanda (or, rather, Huye, Rwanda…depending on the date of the map you are looking at*).  Hopefully it will give you a good idea of the cases that IPHR assists with on a daily basis.

*Butare was renamed to Huye in 2006 after an administrative reorganization. Many cities in Rwanda also underwent similar name changes.

PS - TO ALL MY EXPERT FILM-MAKING/FILM-WATCHING FRIENDS: film-making tips are greatly appreciated!! This is not the only film I’ll be making, and I know I have a lot to learn. :)

3 Responses to “Meet Mukamuhire – A Film”

  1. Thomas says:

    Impressive that she walked three days “just” because a friend told her about IPHR. Your organization must have made a really good impression on that friend. But it also shows that a Mobile Legal Aid Clinic would be very effective in giving more people the opportunity to use your services.

    I really liked the movie, I just sometimes had a hard time reading all the text before it disappeared but then I just used the start / stop, so np.

  2. Alicia says:

    I don’t think you need any film making tips. This film is great! It was really nice to meet Mukamuhire. I am so impressed by the work that the Legal Aid Clinic is doing. I think that a lack of access to legal recourse is a root cause of many types of problems – economic, governmental, political, and the like. By providing such access, IPHR is helping to address very core issues that will help this society to develop even more effectively. Wonderful work! It’s been so interesting to read along.

  3. Andrew says:

    Great job with the video! Mukamuhire’s story really proves the demand for IPHR’s services, and shows how helpful a mobile version of the clinic would be for Rwanda. You’ve been really busy over there, keep up the awesome work!

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It Is Finished!

Mallory Minter | Posted July 24th, 2012 | Africa

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Actually, that isn’t entirely true. I’m sure a few minor tweaks will occur over the next few weeks. But, nevertheless, please check us out!


Thank you for your support!!






2 Responses to “It Is Finished!”

  1. Andrew says:

    Great work Mallory! IPHR now has at least one more twitter follower and facebook like, and the website also looks fantastic! I can’t wait until I’m bombarded from multiple angles with updates about IPHR’s news and successes.

  2. Thomas says:

    “Liked” and “Followed” but I especially liked the website. Not only is the design very nice and clear, it is also very informative! Hope you will get a lot of good feedback for it and will be able to get a lot of people informed about the very important work of IPHR.

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Update: Work and Food

Mallory Minter | Posted July 21st, 2012 | Africa

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You may be wondering why my blog posts have been petering out lately. It’s because, over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time working on some of IPHR’s internal initiatives and on the IPHR website (I will send more information about this soon!).

However, during this past week, I did have the opportunity to travel to Gishamvu (located in the southwestern part of Rwanda) with IPHR’s Yves. At this event, Yves sat with many poor Rwandans who have heavy legal matters on their shoulders. He listened to their stories, heard their concerns, and offered free legal advice on their best course of legal action.

(You can view more photos of this event by selecting the photo below. This will take you to my Flickr album and, from here, you can scroll through the other photos taken in Gishamvu.)

Gishamvu - Free Legal Aid
Gishamvu - Free Legal Aid

Also during these past few weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to get used to the local cuisine!

Food is a big part of any culture, and Rwanda is no exception. So, I wanted to share some of this culture with you.

Breakfast: From what I’ve experienced, people aren’t big on breakfast here. At most (and depending on what people can afford), a typical breakfast may consist of eggs or some form of bread, such as amandazi (fried balls of dough – see below). Coffee or tea is also standard!


Lunch and Dinner: Foods that can be commonly found on a Rwandan lunch plate are also fair game for dinner cuisine.

(Select the photos below to read the descriptions of the food.)

Imvangae, Isombe, and Inagaa
Imvangae, Isombe, and Inagaa

Full Rwandan Meal(s)
Full Rwandan Meal(s)

 However, it should be noted that many Rwandans only eat one of these two meals  — and, in fact, it’s common for Rwandans to only eat one meal a day.

Interestingly enough, I’ve talked to many Rwandan men (okay…at least 5) who have told me that they don’t enjoy eating. They prefer to eat one meal a day and only because they have to. I’m not sure of the reason behind the phenomenon, but it may help explain why many Rwandans are very thin!

Fruit: The fruit here deserves a section all to itself. The fruit in Rwanda is SO. GOOD. – especially the mangos and pineapples. Fruit is often eaten here in place of dessert, at the end of lunch/dinner.

Mmmmmmm…I shall really miss these when I return to the US!

Fruit in Rwanda - So Good!
Fruit in Rwanda - So Good!

Bon Appetit!

5 Responses to “Update: Work and Food”

  1. Whitney says:

    Fried balls of dough and coffee?? That sounds delicious :)

  2. Mallory Minter says:

    Usually bus or motorcycle — but for long distances, definitely the bus! Honestly, I think motorcycles are more terrifying than buses. The moto drivers know what they are doing (I think), but from an outsider perspective, they often look a little reckless!

  3. Thomas says:

    The fruit looks delicious and I agree with you and Andrew, it tastes so much better when it did not travel half the world.

    How do you travel in Rwanda? Did you take a car or bus? My parents told me that it can be a quite scary experience to travel in a bus in Africa (Kenya), cause there are sometimes big wholes in the street, many people walk along the street and the buses go very fast (for these conditions). What was your experience?

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the update! And don’t worry, making change is a pretty good excuse for slacking a little on the blogging front. That food looks delicious! I can’t believe the guys you talked to don’t want to eat something like that. Also, I’ve noticed the same thing down here in Chile – the fruits are great, and everyone eats them for dessert instead of sweeter foods. I love it!

  5. Natalie says:

    Hey babe – loving the blog. So glad you are having a positive experience in a place I adore! I miss you tons and think of you often!


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Femmes en Détresse

Mallory Minter | Posted July 13th, 2012 | Africa

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During this past week, I attended an IPHR-led workshop for femmes en détresse. This title literally translates to mean “women in distress” and, more accurately, refers to women who are/have been beaten, oppressed or mistreated by their partners.

IPHR works to educate these women on their rights so that they can, in turn, use the law to defend themselves.

During this two-day training, members of IPHR explained to the participants their rights in Rwanda as women, as partners, and as mothers. Additionally, at the end of the workshop, the lawyers of IPHR held individual one-on-one consultations with the women, offering them both free legal advice and defense in court (as needed).

Yves Teaching Women about Their Human Rights - Femmes en Détresse
Yves Teaching Women about Their Human Rights - Femmes en Détresse

 In order to better convey the situations of these women and the impact that IPHR’s work has on their lives, I want to share a few Q&As posed during this training.*

Question: How can I help my son?

Context: When she was young, Meren had a son. Soon after becoming pregnant, the son’s father ran away, leaving Meren and the baby alone. A few years later, Meren met another man and the two of them started a life together. They now have a home and children together. However, Meren’s new partner does not approve of Meren’s first son and wants nothing to do with him. In fact, in the past he would beat and harass the son until, eventually, the son took to the streets. For years now, Meren’s first son has been living on the streets. While she loves her son and wishes for his safety, she is not in a position to leave her current partner nor can she guarantee her son will be safe if he returns home. Meren wants to help her son and to ensure that he has the means necessary to live.

Answer: Understanding Meren’s situation and limitations, IPHR recommends that Meren tries to find the son’s real father. IPHR also recommends that Meren ensures that her first son is legally registered to the father in order to guarantee his rights of inheritance. These rights of inheritance are very important in Rwanda since they often include plots of land, shelter, and cattle – critical assets to life in Rwanda. Furthermore, when Meren finds the son’s real father, she should seek to unify the two which, if all goes well, will hopefully give the son a safe place to live as well as will allow the father and son to forge a relationship that should have commenced years ago.

Question: How can I see my baby and make sure he is protected?

Context: Esther’s baby was stolen. The thief is the baby’s father who, after stealing the baby, changed the baby’s legal name and placed him under the care of his grandfather. Esther once confronted the father and his new wife, but was beaten by the man’s wife. Esther does not hope to gain custody of the baby nor to get him back because she knows that she does not have the financial means necessary to care for the baby. Rather, what Esther wants is to have access to the child and to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the baby is legally registered to the father so that, when the time comes, he will inherit many life necessities.

Answer: Esther’s case is complicated and involves a great deal of deliberation and planning. IPHR and Esther will work together over the coming weeks to fully address her situation. However, upon initial response, IPHR encourages Esther to find out from authorities if the baby is legally registered to the father. Once this information is known, IPHR will work with Esther to help her gain access to her baby and to guarantee the child’s right to succession.

Question: How can I exercise my rights?

Context: Alice is married to a man who recently sold two of their cows without her consent (which is illegal according to Rwandan law). Actions like this are common within Alice’s marriage and Alice wants to take legal action. But she is afraid. If Alice presents her case to the court, her husband has promised that he will kill her.

Answer: There is no clear answer, but IPHR will work with Alice and the police to ensure her safety and the protection of her human rights.

As you can see, there is a profound need in Rwanda for the education and protection of women’s rights. The members of IPHR recognize this need and work to meet it as best they can.

*Names of the women in the Q&A have been changed in order to protect their identity. 

(Click on the photos below to enlarge them.)

Human Rights Training - Femmes en Détresse
Human Rights Training - Femmes en Détresse

Human Rights Training - Femmes en Détresse
Human Rights Training - Femmes en Détresse

Human Rights Training - Femmes en Détresse
Human Rights Training - Femmes en Détresse

6 Responses to “Femmes en Détresse”

  1. Mallory Minter says:

    It was a two day workshop. And that is the name! Haha…I do think they are less distressed at the end of the training — after all, they just received education on their legally-enforceable rights and free legal counseling — but I can’t be 100% sure. I’ll see if I can ask around. :)

  2. iain says:

    Interesting, complicated cases but not totally different from the sort of thing that might occur elsewhere (apart from the cows..) The law itself seems quite progressive, but from what you write women often lack the confidence to claim their rights. Seems like an important service from IPHR.

  3. Jason says:

    Good Work, It is important for people to have Human Rights and enforce them. Usually if Human Rights are not looked upon the government of the country mistreats the people. Continue to work hard!

  4. Amanda says:

    These handful of cases seem so complicated and so aptly phrased – distressing.

    Was the workshop publicly called femmes en detresse? Was it a week long workshop? Are women less “distressed” at the end?

  5. Andrew says:

    It’s great that IPHR is doing work like this. Education is a huge part of encouraging self-empowerment; it does no good to protect people through the law if those people have no idea about those protections. The situations you presented are all really intense and complicated, I hope that IPHR can protect those in danger and bring justice to these women. Inheritance seems to come up again and again – have you thought about working on a blog tackling that issue more in depth?

  6. Thomas says:

    Thanks Mallory for this blog update. It gives us a really great insight how IPHR can help women and what the problems actually are.

    While reading the different cases I can’t help but think that all of them could easily be solved by a court in my home country, but unfortunately it is not that easy in Rwanda.

    If women are kept from bringing their case to the police or the courts, does it also happen that husbands do not want their women to go to IPHR? Does much of the work about the women’s rights have to be done in secret to protect the women or can you always operate openly?

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Fellow: Mallory Minter

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