Sunday, March 7, 2010

Speaking for International Women's Day in New York

I was one of many speakers helping to commemorate International Women's Day on in Harlem, New York. A coalition of organizations, including the hosts Friends of the Congo and Ndunga World Healing, participated in a celebration of the women of the Congo and call for an end to sexual violence and discrimination against women globally.

Outside of supporting the international efforts of Stop the Silence, sponsoring a Congolese woman, a Haitian girl and a girl from Burgundi, I encouraged the audience to also consider working closely with victimized youth in the United States. 
All presentations and exhibits were recorded. 

Preparing to accept an emotional hug of gratitude after watching the emotional movie, “Lumo”.

 Lumo is a feature-length documentary about a young Congolese woman on an uncertain path to recovery at a unique hospital for rape survivors.

The agonies of war torn Africa are deeply etched in the bodies of women. In eastern Congo, vying militias, armies and bandits use rape as a weapon of terror.

Recently engaged to a young man from her village, 20 year-old Lumo Sinai couldn’t wait to have children and start a family. But when she crossed paths with marauding soldiers who brutally attacked her, she was left with a fistula— a condition that has rendered her incontinent and threatens her ability to give birth in the future. Rejected by her fiancĂ© and cast aside by her family, Lumo found her way to the one place that may save her: a hospital for rape survivors set on the border with Rwanda.

Buoyed by the love of the hospital staff, and a formidable team of wise women known to all as “the Mamas,” Lumo and her friends keep the hope of one day resuming their former lives, thanks to an operation that can restore them fully to health. A feisty young woman with a red comb perpetually jutting from her hair, Lumo faces the challenge of recovery with remarkable courage and sass. As she and her friends recover from surgery, they pass the days by gossiping and sharing their dreams of one day finding love.

But when it looks like her operation may have failed, Lumo’s faith is thrown entirely into question.

On this uncertain road to recovery, Lumo shows that the solidarity of women can bind the most irreparable of wounds.

HEAL Africa is funded by individuals and groups whose support enables the hospital to function. In addition, patients like Lumo may need continuing support as they recover and start new lives outside the hospital's protection.

If you would like to help Lumo or any of the other women at HEAL Africa, please visit HEAL Africa's website

On the way home, I saw the Apollo Theater! 

A very special thank you to Shana Williams who accompanied me on this journey and Kambale Musavuli, International Spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, who invited me to take part in this outstanding event. 

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