‘CROSSINGS’ offers a compelling glimpse into the lives of cross-border traders in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and illustrates the potential of this trade to contribute to peace in the region. The DRC is the third largest country in Africa. Despite its vast mineral wealth, its people are among the poorest in the world. Decades of conflict have left the country devastated. Around two million Congolese citizens have been internally displaced from their homes in North and South Kivu, and hundreds of thousands more have fled to neighbouring countries. Today, armed groups control large areas in the east, creating insecurity and preying on a defenceless population. Combined with the inability of the state to adequately govern, this means that roads and other infrastructure remain dilapidated, millions of people are unable to access basic public services and young people struggle to find jobs. The situation of women has been particularly acute, with DRC bleakly described as the ‘rape capital of the world’. Yet despite these troubles, life goes on in eastern DRC. In a region where economic opportunities are limited, small-scale cross-border trade is one of the most important means for ordinary people to feed, clothe and educate their families. Three-quarters of these traders are women. International Alert, the peace building NGO believes cross-border trade offers an important opportunity for peace and prosperity in the region. Since 2009, Alert has been training women traders in business and cooperative skills, supporting dialogue with border officials and authorities, and raising awareness of the daily struggle traders face. Cross-border trade provides an income for tens of thousands of small traders, three-quarters of whom are women. This trade is also a daily reminder of the strong economic links between DRC and its eastern neighbours, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, despite the political tensions between them. Cross-border trade opens up space for dialogue, fostering mutual tolerance and respect. So central is trade to life in the Great Lakes that in June last year, the World Bank announced $1billion dollars in new funding to help increase cross-border trade, as well as improve electricity supply and support other projects in the region. World Bank president Jim Yang Kim described the funding as “a major contributor to a lasting peace in the region”.
Carol Allen-Storey is an award-winning photojournalist specialising in chronicling humanitarian and social issues. “My images are intimate, about issues and citizens I deeply care about. I believe photographs may not be capable of doing the moral work for us, but they can trigger the process of social consciousness” Storey’s work has been exhibited and published globally. Her solo exhibitions include: ‘The AMAHORO Generation’, and ‘CROSSINGS’ 2014 in London, the Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo and EU Head Quarters, Brussels for International Alert; ‘TEENS and the Loneliness of AIDS’ 2014 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation; ‘FRACTURED LIVES’ London 2012 for International Alert, ‘Children of Hope’ at the Trinity Cathedral in Kendal, 2011, ‘Anything Is Possible’ in London 2009, for Spirituality for Kids. In 2008, ‘The Vanishing Assets of Africa’, an installation at the Inmarsat Gallery in London, culminating in an auction by Christi’s benefiting the charity, Télécoms Sans Frontières. ‘The Savagery and Poetry of Africa’ London, for WWF, in 2004. In 2015 Storey was selected as a finalist for the LENS Culture Portrait Award and a nominee for the International Colour Awards for Photo journalism. She won 1st Prize in the Act of Kindness International Award 2013. Storey has been a finalist in the Taylor-Wessing Portrait Awards exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery 2009, 2011, 2013. She won bronze awards in the One-Eyeland 2014 contest, was chosen photographer of the month in the Social Documentary magazine, along with being featured as a finalist in their exhibition at the Powerhouse Arena in New York. Storey received the outstanding achievement documentary project for the Kontinent Awards 2013, short listed for Social Documentary in 2008, 2009, and 2010 at the New York Photography Festival and a finalist in 2013, featured in their exhibition in New York 2014. In 2008, 2010 she was selected for the Press Photographer’s Award exhibition. Storey has been a nominee at the International Spider Awards each year from 2008 through 2013; was shortlisted for the 2011 One Life International Portfolio Award. In 2012 Carol was a finalist for the Photocrafti Award. The Moving Walls exhibition touring Europe 2012, and the Royal Photographic Society 2014 members exhibition. In 2009 Storey was appointed a UNICEF ambassador for photography. Since 2006, she has been developing ‘ANGELS at the edge of darkness’, a personal project that illuminates the plight of women and children managing poverty and the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Storey is a graduate with distinction of the Central St. Martins, Master Photography programme, 2000. Her further degrees include a BA from Syracuse University and an MA at Columbia University. A native New Yorker, she resides in London.