Archive for February, 2010

“The Forgotton War” – NYT Covers Lisa Shannon in the Congo

February 24, 2010

NYTimes did a video piece on Lisa Shannon and her volunteer work in the DRC.

Five years ago Lisa founded Run for Congo Women, a “grassroots movement benefiting Women for Women International’s Congo program,” which began with a lone 30-mile trail run, that would help change the lives of 80 Congolese women and their hundreds of children. Today she has quit her job and volunteers full time in DRC and Washington . Her book “1000 Sisters: My Journey to the Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman” will be published this July by Seal Press.

Although this war has claimed over 5.4 million lives, and its brutality breaches every code of war (mass rape and mutilation – to even the elderly and small children – is a daily reality), it gets virtually no news coverage. Ironically, the involvement of this young American generates most of the stories you’ll find, especially recently.

Nicholas Kristof, who interviews her on the video, writes about meeting one of the women Lisa has helped:

I found myself stepping with Lisa into a shack here […] Lisa had come to visit a woman she calls her sister, Generose Namburho, a 40-year-old nurse.

Generose’s story is numbingly familiar: extremist Hutu militiamen invaded her home one night, killed her husband and prepared to rape her. Then, because she shouted in an attempt to warn her neighbors, they hacked off her leg above the knee with a machete.

As Generose lay bleeding near her husband’s corpse, the soldiers cut up the amputated leg, cooked the pieces on the kitchen fire, and ordered her children to eat their mother’s flesh. One son, a 12-year-old, refused. “If you kill me, kill me,” he told the soldiers, as his mother remembers it. “But I will not eat a part of my mother.”

So they shot him dead. The murder is one of Generose’s last memories before she blacked out, waking up days later in the hospital where she had worked. [Em. mine]

Yes, this is a lifelong crusade for Lisa Shannon, but if you’ve been moved even partially by anything you heard in that video, or read here: First person stories of Congolese women, or saw here: The Greatest Silence – trailer for Palme D’Or Winner, or here: Lumo – trailer for documentary about one woman’s story… you can help without so much as leaving your chair or inconveniencing your life.

Sponsor a woman through Women for Women International for only $27/month. Money goes to:

Rights Awareness and Leadership Training

designed to help women understand their unique rights: politically, as survivors of war, ethnic and religious conflict and as voices in bringing about stability; economically, in understanding their rights to earn a fair income; legally, in acquiring skills to fight discrimination, domestic violence and other civil wrongs; and personally, with respect to understanding human reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth, nutrition, stress and stress management, and the spread, treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Vocational and Technical Skills Training

Local instructors provide vocational skills training in carpentry, leatherwork, bee-keeping, jewelry-making, traditional folk art, shoe repair and other areas so women can find a job or start their own home-based businesses. Technical training in savings, basic bookkeeping and marketing may also be provided.

and Income Generation Support

To help women transform their new skills into financial independence and sustainability, Women for Women International provides microcredit loans and other income generation support. This support helps ensure that women are provided with an option to continue supporting themselves and their families after their participation in the Sponsorship […] programs ends.

I don’t know about you, but I spend more than $27/month at Starbucks. Think what it can do in a war-ravaged country for a woman who has endured atrocities we can barely imagine…

Other info and ways to give:

Raise Hope for Congo

Stop Rape in DRC

TEN REASONS WHY Eastern Congo is the Most Dangerous Place on Earth for Women

Congo’s Rape Epidemic Worsens

Earlier Blackbird Posts:

“Like Rwanda But Worse” Rape As a Weapon of War in the Congo [Part 1: History of the Conflict

Rape As a Weapon of War in the Congo [Part 2: The Savagery]

Rape As a Weapon of War in the Congo [Part 3: The Healing and What You Can Do To Help]

“The Greatest Silence” – DRC Documentary Wins at Sundance