Mamavism Monday: Run for Congo Women
Every Monday I will have information to share about events coming up, groups and non-profits you might be interested in, green ideas to implement, people that are amazing me in their efforts; basically any actions I think will show off the true range and magnificence of MAMAVISM! It is so important for us to remember small changes make a big difference when done collectively. Our wallets, our choices, companies we support, ways we reduce at home, all make an impact in the future world our children will inherit from us.
So giddy up! Let’s take mamavism on the road!
Mamavism Monday: Run for Congo Women
The 2010 season of Run for Congo Women is officially afoot with the opening run starting this Saturday, April 17th in Frederick, Maryland! Next comes Portland, Oregon on June 26th followed, ever so closely, by Denver, Colorado on June 27th. New York, Chicago, North Carolina and more will follow throughout the summer and into the fall!
Strap those sneakers on your feet, and if you live close enough to make one of the runs/walks register today! Not to worry if you are not a runner, plenty of folks lace up their shoes at a walkers pace and enjoy the morning with their friends! If you want to run an event near you, but at this juncture aren’t so much a runner, then check out the C25K program! Turn a couch potato into a 5K runner in 9 weeks! Just in time for Portland and Denver!
“Why should I run or walk for Congo Women?”
If you are wondering why there is even a Run for Congo Women, why I even care about the Democratic Republic of Congo, why thousands of us do this every year for the fourth or fifth, depending on locale, year running, I have a plethora of information for you to peruse to find out why we do it.
5.4 million people have died in the last 10 years during the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Half of those have been children under the age of five. Women and girls have been violently raped and tortured, no one is immune…six-month olds to eigty-year olds all have been raped. Their genitalia and organs completely destroyed, their unborn babies murdered, their hands, arms, and legs amputated by warring militias, all in the name of natural resources in the region of Eastern Congo. All this in a place you may have never even heard about.
For an overall education of the travesties going on in Congo, Lisa Shannon, the founder of Run for Congo Women, has written a book titled A Thousand Sisters. It has just been released which is widely available and highly acclaimed by the likes of Alice Walker, Lisa Ling, and Adam Hochschild. It is the story of her journey from the couch in front of an Oprah episode which shocked her, to the land of Congo to meet and talk with the women her run was helping to support through Women for Women International.
Also, this article titled From ‘Oprah’ to Building Sisterhood in Congo by Nicholas Kristof and his visit with Lisa in February of this year, tells the shocking truth about a travesty the world has almost forgotten. Don’t skip reading it. This video was shot at the same meeting:
This excerpt is from an email update from Eve Ensler’s V-Day project at a Breaking the Silence event in Bukavu, Congo in 2008 when Eve Ensler visited the Congo to listen to stories and celebrate the strength and resilience of these amazing women:
“My aim is to denounce rape. I am 52 years old. I have nine children. We are suffering a lot even if they say we have peace. We do not. I will tell you what happened. I was selling beer in the market. We met some Interhamwe. They stopped us. They were talking Kinyarawnda. There were 12 of us. They said. “Today you will see. Today you will have other husbands.” They told us to lie down. They started beating us with sticks. They all started raping us. They took us into the forests. They beat us more. They raped us again. They walked us again to another camp until one in the morning. Then they tied us to trees. They tied us so tight. There were six women then and two husbands. They raped us in front of them. All the misery of the world was in our heads. We woke up so hungry. They said we had to wait for guests. New sex slaves. They came with a pregnant woman. They told me to cut her open with a knife. I couldn’t do it. My hands were trembling. They opened the belly of the woman and threw the baby on the ground. The woman died. Then they chopped up the baby and cooked it. Everyone peed on it with urine and put feces in it. Then they said we had to eat it. They bought bananas. They made us eat it. They said. “You fucking Congolese. You are eating your own sisters.” Then the husband of the woman who had been pregnant came looking for his wife. They took him to show where his wife gave birth. He gave them his small dollars. Then another soldier came and hit him and then they killed him. They kept us for two months. They said now soon you are going to die. Oh God, we said. They said, we don’t know God. In the morning we heard Congolese soldiers. They screamed for us to lie on the ground. There was lots of shooting. Then they told us to stand and we went to Panzi hospital. We were treated. We were not HIV. After a few days at home, the Interhamwe came again. They killed my uncle, my son, the wife of my brother. I could hear them cutting their heads.”
Last but not least, this just in!!! Watch ABC World News Tonight TONIGHT April 13, 2010 to watch an interview with Lisa Shannon and her work and visit to Congo!
This is heavy stuff. There is no way around that. There is just no other way than to share the truth to explain to someone who has never heard of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo why they should care. This is why they should care…their sisters and their daughters of the next generation are being subjected to heinous acts against their being. At the same time, it is important that we don’t get ‘stuck’ in the negativity and sense of overwhelm this information can generate. The key is to take it, absorb it, understand it, then take action!
Today you can register for your nearest Run for Congo Women and raise money to support Women for Women Internatioanls’ Congo Program which provides sponsorship funds to these women, along with job skills training, women’s rights awareness training, seed money to start their businesses, letter support from their American sisters, and more! There is hope for these women and YOU ARE IT.
Why Mamavism and Congo? Because it is the perfect example of universality. Motherhood is universal, our hopes, our dreams, our regrets, our pain, as mothers we share the magnitude of those feelings that come with being a Mom. The mothers in Eastern Congo don’t know if they will make it through the day to raise their babies, they are unsure if their children will make it to adulthood to live out the hopes their mothers have for them. By far the most dramatic, and poignant, and heart wrenching, and true reflection of the bond between child and mother came from one of Lisa’s blog posts in this recent trip to Congo. Titled Still Nursing, you will be forever changed by reading it, and empowered to stand in solidarity with your sisters around the world.
Ready to run?
Spill it: Today’s spill it is out into the world. Share this blog or this link, or your own words, to your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, whatever or however it is you spill information to your community! Spread it far and wide to change the lives of your sisters in the Democratic Republic of Congo today…
Still not convinced? There is more:
~ Women Left for Dead-and the Man Who is Saving Them by Eve Ensler
~ War on Women in the Congo by Eve Ensler
~ Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource – VDay Campaign
~ Postcards From the Edge O Magazine
~ I Am Starting to Throw My Worries Away One By One O Magazine