Sunday, May 8, 2011

Supporting Women of the Congo with Friends on Mother's Day

By all accounts, DR Congo is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman or girl,” says Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who has spent the last 10 years focusing on Congo. “These are often soldiers and combatants deliberately targeting women and raping them as a strategy of war, either to punish a community, to terrorize a community or to humiliate them.”

DRC Women & Statistics as reported by CNN:

* Most times the women are raped by at least 2 perpetrators.

* The majority of rapes are against childen, including boys, but primarily females.

* The UN estimates that 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo over the last 12 years.

* Rape is escalating, as a weapon of war.

* Often the rapes are committed in front of children and family members, as an additional dishonor and statement of power.

* Male family members are often forced to rape their own children and wives, at gunpoint.

Today we helped support and sent them our love. ♥
With Kambale Musavuli, Friends of the Congo Spokesperson & Student Coordinator, who avidly advocates for his country. He shared that his memories of the Congo were not those of violence, but that of a great home, home of the best fish and mango in the world. Kambale is such a wonderful representative of his country and he has taught me much about the war in the Congo. Thank you, Kambale, for all that you do.
This weekend, I borrowed a beautiful African garb from a friend and volunteered for a special Mother's Day performance of the play, Ruined, at Arena Stage in support of the women of the Congo.
Friends of the Congo, in partnership with Arena Stage Theater and the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Ruined, presents a special Mother's Day fundraiser for women in the Congo.

With other volunteers, beautifully dressed in African garbs
I am presented with Congolese cuisine, which I thoroughly enjoyed (as I do all food, lol...)

One of the waitresses said to me, "I can now say I have met the 'Perfect Woman'!" They were so kind and complimentary. 
Chatting with Makeda Crane's mother. Makeda was one of the organizers of the event.
The Mother's Day celebration was chaired by Dr. Yvonne Seon and Ambassador Shirley Barnes, Former U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar. This special presentation of the play was highlighted by a pre-play reception featuring Congolese cuisine, music, and performers. Special performances were made by songstress Navasha Daya of Fertile Ground (pictured with me above) and Congolese performer Deja Belle. 
Renowned author, Marita Golden, shared a literary treat and students from Duke Ellington School of Arts dedicated a special poem to the women of the Congo.

The play, Ruined, was phenomenal. I truly understand its winning an award... It was tough for me to watch at parts, however it did contain much humor and the plot was thoroughly carried out. If you did not see it, the play will be performed through June 5th--for your personal awareness of what is happening in the Congo, please go and see it.  

Following the play, the two Congolese beneficiaries of the fundraiser (Association of Widows and Congo Restoration) along with members of the cast participated in a very informative post play discussion. If you knew nothing about the war in Congo, you certainly did after this day...

Mardis and I gladly donated $500 to this important cause. In case you could not join us in DC at Arena Stage, you, too, can still support the two women's organizations working in the Congo who are beneficiaries of this fundraiser by donating here. Or tell Obama and Clinton to send a special envoy to the Congo here! Thank you in advance for your support! 

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