One country. Ten Women. Countless stories…. compelling. Today my dear Congo companion Lynne Hybles wrote in her blog concerning TEN facts about Congo. It is one of the most convicting “ten” lists I have read.(http://lynnehybels.blogspot.com/ )
By the time I hit number eight, the tears were flowing… I could feel this rumble inside my gut, as if there was something trying to work it’s way out. I wanted to tell anyone that would listen that I cared. This stuff mattered. I would NOT forget. Passion for justice was in the house….
See how far you can make it before you want to stop reading. The don’t stop…let it sink in. Remind yourself of the ages of your children, your mom, what you ate for breakfast, your drive to the grocery store, your right to vote peacefully, and rest safely in your bed.
Then don’t let guilt take over… guilt is paralizing. Congo doesn’t need guilt, she needs a voice. Let motivation take you over… tell someone about what you read at dinner, or church, or school, twitter, facebook, your blog.
Two women I was standing in line with at the mall yesterday are following the Ten for Congo Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/belindabauman.TenForCongo) just because I told them that women are being targeted for gender violence systematically in Congo.
It is amazing how attractive passion is! And you are an amazing group of friends, with enough hope among you to see justice come to very dark places…
Read and then RAISE YOUR VOICE!!
- The population of the DRC is over 71 million.
- The DRC is approximately 905,567 square miles, equal to the size of the US east of the Mississippi. It is the eleventh-largest country in the world.
- The official language of the DRC is French, with Swahili, Kikongo, Lingala, and Tshiluba also being very prevalent.
- In a land rich in mineral resources, 80 percent of the people nevertheless live in extreme poverty.
- The DRC is a failed state struggling to recover from over a decade of civil war that has officially ended, but continues in ongoing violence between numerous armed rebel militias.
- More than 5.4 million people have died as a result of this ongoing violence, making it the deadliest conflict since World War 2.
- The DRC’s vast natural resources, which are used in western electronics, are illegally mined by rebels who earn millions of dollars to buy weapons used to terrorize and control the civilian population.
- Nearly 2 million Congolese have become internally displaced, forced to flee from their homes to escape armed rebels.
- More than 400,000 DRC refugees still remain in various asylum countries.
- Sexual violence in eastern Congo is the worst in the world and considered by many to be the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict.”—Major General Patrick Cammaert, former UN Deputy Force Commander, describing the situation in eastern Congo, May 2008.
You can follow any of the Ten for Congo women, learn more about how to respond at World Relief: http://worldrelief.org/lynnehybels