Feb 28, 2022 6:45 PM
John VanderMeer
"Hammers and Saws - tools helping peoples of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo tell stories".

My name is John VanderMeer and I was born and raised in Alliston.  After school, I moved to the Oshawa area to work with Ontario Hydro at two of their nuclear power stations. Met my wife Marian there and we have been blessed with 6 children, 3 boys followed by 3 girls.

In 1993, after 12 years working with Hydro, I left to join Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International.   For the next 5 years, Marian and I busied ourselves with the needed training and preparations to move our family to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).   When we left Canada, the DRC had once again plunged into warfare, making it not safe to live in the country.  So, we temporarily worked out of Nairobi, Kenya, for two years.   We then moved and worked from Arua, Uganda, a town near the DRC border for about 8 years.  Finally, we moved to Isiro, DRC, for about 6 years.  We continue to support the work in the DRC, but now remotely, from our home in Whitby, Ontario, making yearly trips back, barring travel restrictions from the Covid pandemic.   

Using my technical training, I was able to provide technical support in areas such as solar power, radio communications, computer support and internet connectivity.  This often involved being dropped into small villages within the forest by small Cessna planes or using a 4x4 on some very bad roads.   I have since transitioned to providing support to the different language communities in the area of media.  This includes building apps for smart phones, dubbing films into local languages, audio recording, some video, training and finding hardware solutions.

One of the jobs for the May 2022 Congo trip will include leading an audio-recording training workshop to representatives from 8 different language communities. Discussing this workshop with my supervisor some months back, we explored different ideas to better enable the students to create local audio programs.   Because of limited funding, these students will be expected to share recording and editing hardware among themselves, despite the fact that they live far apart.  This is not good.   It would be like asking carpenters in different towns to share the same hammer and Saw, then wonder why they were taking so long to build their houses.  I offered to try raise the needed funds in Canada so to purchase the needed hardware to take back.