Gwinnett County man makes a difference in the Congo through CARE - CBS46 News

Gwinnett County man makes a difference in the Congo through CARE

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Rape, war and genocide are still a reality in some developing countries. To bring attention to the issue, One Million Bones were laid out on the National Mall in Washington, DC to raise awareness in places like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Through the project, $500,000 was raised for CARE's efforts in those countries. CARE is a an Atlanta-based organization committed to ending global poverty with humanitarian efforts.

CARE employee Michael Alandu sees the struggle everyday and chooses to be in the Congo to help make a change. He's a humanitarian working with CARE.

"Life is beautiful when I'm with my family," Alandu said. "The Congo looks like heaven but feels like hell," Alandu said.

Alandu's wife Benita and son John Paul live in Gwinnett County.

"We spend time together when I'm here. We make the best of it. I get to play with John Paul. We go on bike rides, I fix his toys," Alandu said.

Alandu is in Gwinnett County a few weeks out of every year. The rest of the year, Alandu lives and works in the Congo.

"I am convinced with the right approach, societies can change. Societies are poor not because the people want to be poor, but because they have not gotten onto the right path. I believe there are local solutions to local problems," Alandu said.

Alandu saw the problems first-hand growing up in Ghana in West Africa.

"I think three words would sum up what growing up in Ghana meant: hunger, disease and poverty," Alandu said.

It's because of his upbringing he pushes for change in the Congo. He's called a governance advisor, assisting in making local authorities more responsive to the needs of the people. He educates communities of their rights when it comes to things like healthcare and education.

"When you look closely at the lives people live, it's a daily struggle of running away from guns, of trying to get healthcare for a child who has just collapsed, for a pregnant woman who's in labor," Alandu said.

It takes a full day of travel to reach most communities for a field visit. That includes a flight, a long car ride, going over a river and then travel by motorbike.

CARE's main focus in the Congo is on women and girls. They make up more than half of the population. The country has one of the highest death rates for children under five.

"If CARE wasn't in the Congo, many more women would die during childbirth, many more kids would die before age 5," Alandu said.

Alandu believes it will take a change in mindset to change the Congo's future, a future he's committed to.

"It's providing opportunities for people to change their lives. If I can help to get to that turning point to get people to their full potential, the world will be a better place," Alandu said.

And that's what he wants for his son, not just a better life than what he had, but a better world to grow up in.

"My life is testimony of the transformation from poverty to a better lifestyle. Hopefully my son will realize that his daddy made a choice that will help others," Alandu said.

His wife witnesses the difference he makes. She believes the sacrifices they both make are hard but necessary.

"I don't think he could go and stay a week or two to make the difference that he needs to make," Benita Alandu said.

Alandu works so that other families may experience a glimmer of what he has.

"This is a long term project that needs to go on. The alternative is unimaginable," Alandu said.

Alandu has worked in the Congo for four years. He went to college in his native Ghana, and went on to do graduate studies in Japan, China and the U.S. before becoming an American citizen.

For more information on CARE, click here.

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