Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why the Congo?

People ask me why I choose to help women in a country so far away with so many problems when I could be helping women at home in the US.

My response is that Congolese women need more help than other women. They have experienced atrocities so horrendous they are difficult to speak of or even comprehend. Worse yet, they have been cast out of their communities to fend for themselves, along with their children, with no means of support. It is said it is more dangerous to be a woman in Congo than it is to be a soldier there. Their losses are enormous, and I often wonder how they have survived until now, when so many others died because their lives are so difficult.

So here I am on Thanksgiving Day, back in Bukavu for several weeks, counting my blessings. I spent the morning interviewing women survivors, listening to the stories of their lives, moved to tears by the depth of their suffering. And yet, they continue to amaze and inspire me with their courage and capacity to hope.

The women I help here are still full of life; they laugh, argue, and break into song and dance when they are happy. They're fun, and I always enjoy being with them. The latest plan is that from donations they will buy food in bulk, 100 kilo sacks of cassava and corn flour, rice, beans and cooking oil. They will divide the large bags equally, using the food to feed their children, or sell if there is any left.

I am blessed that I can be here to make their lives easier, their worries less sharp, their hope brighter.

Happy Thanksgiving.

With love and gratitude,