Blog | DRC Human Rights House Mural Beckons Youth to Get Involved

Jason Kibiswa Bulambo, 34, is a technical trainer for the Youth Initiative project at the Carter Center’s Human Rights House (HRH) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He recently created a large mural at the HRH Kinshasa office.

The Human Rights House operates three neighborhood Youth Houses, or Maisons des Jeunes — two in Kinshasa and one in Goma — where we work to encourage the positive and constructive participation of youth in public affairs. We provide a free space for debate, which encourages the free exchange of ideas on participatory democracy.

With a background in visual communication and project management, I look for novel ways to inspire the next generation.

In the HRH office, we created a mural titled, “You are welcome at the Human Rights House at The Carter Center.” It represents the Carter Center’s flagship projects in the DRC — the youth project, training on human rights, human rights defender protection networks, and election observation. In the painting you see youth, trainers, participants, a prison, a liberated human rights defender, family reunification, press, and election activities. It is an invitation to youth, activists, and human rights defenders to come to the Human Rights House for training and to strengthen their capacity to lead the struggle for the promotion and protection of human rights in their communities.

These drawings show what human rights should look like and what a committed young person can do. Often these young people need models, examples they can rely on. Young people have a lot of energy. With their dedication and their many strengths, they can change this country. The challenge is to use these strengths in a positive and constructive way.

The painting was originally a single piece, but due to a lack of space we had to divide it into two parts (one in the entrance hall and the other in the large meeting room). It took us 12 days to create, which is amazing as normally it would take one month. We worked on it during the winter holiday period when the offices were officially closed. I remember coming back to work on New Year’s Day so that I could meet our deadline, as our colleagues would return to the office on Jan. 4. It ended up being an enormous challenge for us given the size of the walls and the tight timeframe.  We met the challenge, but we spent a lot of physical and mental energy. In the end, we were very happy with the result.

The artwork has been greatly appreciated. Our partners enjoy it when they enter the office or hold a meeting in the large room. It brings a moment of joy when people ask questions or take photos.

I firmly believe in the positive force of change and the active involvement of youth for the good of our country. A better Congo of tomorrow will depend on the mentorship our youth receive today. When I look at them, I tell myself that these drawings, even if they do not speak, are actually the most articulate statements of what youth can create in the DRC. I hope youth will see them and be encouraged to listen to their inner voice.

The Youth Initiative receives financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and works with three civil society partners: JNS (Youth for a New Society) and RHA (Rebuild Hope for Africa) in Kinshasa, and AIDPROFEN (Action and Development Initiatives to Protect Women and Children) in Goma.

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