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"With falling whistles, their only choice is to feign death or face it…"
Falling Whistles is non-profit that campaigns for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and sells whistles to rehabilitate war-affected children. Its founder, Sean Carasso, had backpacked throughout Africa in search of adventure after working in South Africa with TOMS, a one for one company that gives a pair of canvas shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. After two months of wandering, Carasso found himself in the "chaos of Congo," in the middle of the world's deadliest war, connecting with child soldiers who had recently escaped the rebel army.
In talking to these children, Carasso learned that boys not big enough to carry a gun were given merely a whistle and sent to the front lines. Their purpose was to make enough noise to startle the enemy soldiers and receive the first round of bullets. The horror he felt after hearing about the whistleblowers inspired him to write a journal entry that grew into what Falling Whistles is today.
With a small team, Falling Whistles embarked on a U.S. tour this fall "from sea to shining sea" in the hopes of building a nationwide coalition for peace in the Congo. They stopped at schools, concerts, clubs, churches, parks and anywhere else they could find an engaged audience. The growing coalition of whistleblowers for peace doesn't claim to have all the answers, advocating that change must first begin with discussing the issue.
In the videos above, Sean Carasso reflects upon his inspiration for Falling Whistles, the realities and the challenges he observed in the Congo, the role of media in the formation of perception, the influence of public will on policy and the fostering of community and youth visionaries. Yves Muya, a Congolese activist and member of the Falling Whistles team, addresses the power of storytelling and the importance of local empowerment.
For a more extensive look at this issue visit the Pulitzer Center's reporting project The Lord's Resistance Army: The Hunt for Africa's Most Wanted by Joe Bavier, a freelance journalist and Marcus Bleasdale, an award-winning documentary photographer. This fall, Joe and Marcus traveled to Congo and the Central African Republic on the trail of Kony's rebels.
For more information about the Falling Whistles or their fall tour check out their website, where you can also find their new video "Peace is the New Frontier" which outlines their mission and plan for achieving peace in the Congo.