Margaux Fitoussi (2011)
Transforming Radio Operators into Human Rights Reporters
Working with Invisible Children, a non-profit based in San Diego, Margaux will develop and facilitate a series of Human Rights reporting workshops in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in order to improve the quality of information broadcast from high frequency radio towers in the region. Invisible Children has been working to increase the number of radio towers in this area in order to improve the long-distance communication between remote locations. Based in local parishes, these towers act as an early warning mechanism to warn villages of the movements of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group originating in northern Uganda. Margaux will work closely with Congolese radio tower operators to improve their reporting techniques and the documentation of the LRA’s human rights abuses. The early warning system aims to improve tracking of the LRA’s movements and the effectiveness of humanitarian groups to respond to LRA attacks. This project could potentially become a model for similar warning systems in the Central African Republic and southern Sudan.
As a History major and Global Poverty and Practice minor, Margaux focused her studies at UC Berkeley on the history of 20th century liberation movements and human rights. She applied this knowledge on the ground while in South Africa for seven months in 2010 as a Haas and International Institute Merit Scholar. She interviewed women who received political training from Cuban activists during their participation in the struggle against apartheid in the 1970s and 1990s. From this research, Margaux produced a honors thesis entitled "The Education and Politicization of the African National Congress's Women's Section: 1975-1991." During her time in South Africa, Margaux also advocated for the rights of Zimbabwean immigrants living in South Africa with the grassroots NGO People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty. In addition, she translated and worked on asylum-seeker cases for Congolese refugees with the Refugee Rights Project at the University of Cape Town. Margaux is an avid open water swimmer; this past year she completed two competitive swims from prison islands: Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.