Our Partner: Congolese Activist Receives U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award

Pictured above Human Trafficking Advisory Council Chair Cindy McCain, Rebecca Kabugho, Fred Bauma and Serge Sivya, members of LUCHA. 

The McCain Institute is proud to work with one of this year’s recipients of 2017 International Women of Courage Award, Rebecca Kabugho. Ms. Kabugho comes from Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  For the past several years Ms. Kabugho has been part of Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA), a non-violent civic activist group that was formed to simply advocate for issues important to the Congolese people, such as clean water, but also for free and fair elections.  Ms. Kabugho participated in the McCain Institute’s Election Scenario Planning Program in 2016, a six-month program that brought together 80 leaders from around North Kivu province.  During that period in February 2016, she was arrested and jailed for six months along with several other LUCHA activists while peacefully marching, calling for the Congolese government to adhere to the Constitution and hold elections on time.  Ms. Kabugho courageously served her prison term and continues to vigorously advocate for the rights of the Congolese people.

“While so much tragic news emerges daily from Congo, Rebecca’s strength and determination gives hope for the future of Congo,” said Paul Fagan, director of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Program at the McCain Institute.

In February 2017, while in Goma, Mrs. Cindy McCain had the honor to meet with Ms. Kabugho and two other LUCHA members, Fred Bauma and Serge Sivya to discuss the ongoing situation in Congo.  Ms. Kabugho, Fred, Serge and so many other activists have shown persistent courage and bravery in spite of the obstacles, determined to change Congo for the better. They do not have a political agenda, only wanting what’s best for all Congolese. The McCain Institute congratulates Ms. Kabugho as she represents all LUCHA activists and Congolese people when she receives the Secretary of State’s award.

The McCain Institute’s program in Congo, the North Kivu Democracy Project, is made possible by a generous grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.