In 2008, a young traveler named Sean traveled through eastern Congo to learn about a war he knew nothing about. Just a few days later he found himself in a military encampment, where he met five boys being held prisoner by the national army. The boys had been child soldiers, taken from their homes and forced to fight for two different rebel groups, until one night they escaped and ran to the national army for refuge.
Now in the hands of their own military, they were being treated as enemies of the state. He spent the day with the boys, trading stories, laughter and tears. One boy told him of children too small to carry guns being sent to the frontlines, armed with only a whistle. After he and his partner worked with the UN to have the boys released.
He went home that night and wrote the Falling Whistles journal. A single story of a single day. It was originally sent to about 80 friends and family, who forwarded it around the world.
Thousands of strangers wrote back asking:
what can we do?
When he arrived back on U.S. soil, he wanted to tell everyone about what he had seen: the deadliest war of our time still unfolding - unnoticed and unchallenged. But war isn’t so easily brought up in casual conversation. Then a friend Marcus gave him a unique gift: a whistle on a chain. Worn around his neck, it sparked interest everywhere he went.
That’s when they realized: Their weapon could be our voice.
They began selling whistles out of their pockets, asking everyone they met to be a whistleblower for peace. A young man David then took a box of whistles and hitchhiked from Austin, Texas to New York City.
Along the way he stopped in living rooms and coffee shops with a simple message: “We don’t have all the answers, but we won’t be quiet while millions lose their lives.” Three college students were inspired by him and rode their bikes from Florida to California carrying whistles in their satchels. One by one, person by person, the message began to spread.
Falling Whistles started with no home, no office and no plan—just $5 and a dream worth our everything. We pulled desks from dumpsters, put them in a garage, and launched a campaign for peace in Congo.
We have built a coalition of 120,000 whistleblowers around the world.Including 20 Whistler Societies, and 16 Congolese entrepreneurs living in the war region. Together, we’ve joined dozens of organizations, politicians and experts to push for solutions and seen unprecedented progress.
In 2013, we celebrated the appointments of 2 Special Envoy’s from the US and the UN with mandates to end the war.
In 2012, a digital petition pushed to stop the M23 rebel group in its tracks by drying up its primary source of financing. In 2011, Congolese voters were given the power to monitor their own elections with SMS and radio technology.
History tells us that all great shifts have small beginnings.
Peace in Congo, or peace anywhere for that matter, won’t come in a single dramatic leap.
It will be the accumulation of millions of steps, day after day, away from oppression and toward liberty.
Run with us.