At just seventeen years of age and like many of her fellow Congolese, Alice Bafiala Mutombo was forced by war to walk close to 3,000km across a country the size of Western Europe. When war broke out Alice was a boarder in high school in Bukavu, in the east of the country. Abandoned by her school, Alice sought shelter with a local family until her parents could send a guide to bring her to Maniema to be reunited with her family. The march took two weeks, through dense jungle. Alice wrote of her journey in her dairy, and listened to news of the war on a battery-operated radio. It was the first time the teenager had taken any interest in the news, but it helped her to understand what was happening, and the information assured her that life continued, and that she wasn’t alone.
Years later, Alice fell into the media by accident. With university places filling up fast, Alice’s family encouraged her to give communication studies a try. Around the same time, a local radio station was recruiting journalists from the campus, and the rest, as they say, is history. With no previous experience in the media, Alice became a journalist.
Passion for the radio took hold. Alice’s favorite subjects to cover were the ones that related to the daily life of her audience: the lack of electricity, health, and education among others. She is also a photographer, whose photos of a Congolese prison have recently appeared in Norwegian news outlets. However, after almost six years of working for local radio, Alice was ready for a change, and a new professional challenge.
Alice joined Internews in May 2011, and is excited to be using her experience in the Congolese media to give back and to strengthen community radio in her country. “I love working for Internews, because the media educates the community about their rights. To have their own radio station is very important for a community – it is a way for them to tell their own stories, that they feel are important, in their own voice, and I am so proud to be supporting that,” she says.