Planting Self Determination and Peace in the Republic of the Congo

By Fiona Ruddy |

Since its independence in 1960 the Republic of Congo—-not to be confused with its larger neighbor to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo—has suffered decades of violence and uneven development. The country broke into a full-scale civil war in 1993 and again in 1997. It wasn’t until the late 2000s that over 200,000 internally displaced people were able return home and rebuild their lives that had been upended by conflict.

This is part of our ongoing series featuring short films from Real Food Media, an initiative to catalyze creative storytelling about food, farming and sustainability. 

Filmmaker Austin Haeberle chronicles this ongoing transition to peace and the rejuvenation of civil society in the 2015 Real Food Media Contest’s People’s Choice winner, Mama Adrienne. In this film, we see the heart of this post-conflict healing—not in large-scale development but in something much smaller: seeds. Haeberle tells the story of Louhounou Adrienne, the charismatic force behind a community garden project established with support from the United Nations.

In a country where the life expectancy for women like Adrienne is under 60, the day-to-day challenges can be overwhelming, but her small garden shows the power of community-based efforts and their restorative effect on lasting trauma. Mama Adrienne shows the joys of digging in and growing food to nourish family and community. As Adrienne says, “When we talk about peace we must keep going forward, and not got back.” 

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