Sometimes I do things other than teach and practice yoga (sometimes).
A few month ago, I began working on a project with Friends of the Congo.
If you’re unfamiliar with the challenges and on-going conflict in the Congo (I was too – unfortunately, this is not an issue that gets a lot of media attention), I encourage you to watch this informative and well-made 26-minute documentary.
The situation in the Congo is staggering. Since the beginning of the most recent conflict in the mid-1990s, over six million Congolese people have been killed and the death toll is mounting. Hundreds of thousands of women have been systematically raped (some estimate that 400,000 women are raped in the Congo each year as rape is used as a weapon of war to demoralize and destroy entire communities). Due to a lack of strong institutions in the Congo, international corporations have stolen many of the Congo’s natural resources and the second largest rainforest in the world is shrinking by the day.
The conflict in the Congo may feel far away, but your life is directly connected to the lives of those in the Congo. The minerals that make our televisions, modes of transportation, and technological devices (cell phones, laptops, etc) come from the Congo. The powerful US government has the potential to be either a positive force for change, or a by-stander in one of the world’s greatest catastrophes.
As Maurice Carney, director at FOTC, says at the end of the documentary, “If you’re concerned about climate change, you should be concerned about the Congo . . . If you’re a child advocate, if you’re concerned about children – you ought to be concerned about what’s happening in the Congo . . . If you’re concerned about women – if you have a mother, a sister – you ought to be concerned about what’s happening in the Congo. If you drive an automobile or fly on an airport or own a cell phone . . . you ought to be concerned, you ought to say something . . . ”
Friends of the Congo partners with several youth groups in the Congo to advance the cause of social justice through creative and innovative means using art, music, and technology to promote social justice. You can help.
As you embark on spring-cleaning, let me encourage you to donate your old phones, digital cameras, and laptops to inspiring young organizers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are especially interested in Blackberry phones. This technology is crucial for organizers to communicate with and support each other.
If you have a Blackberry laying around, please donate it. You can bring it/them to any of my classes (schedule here), or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a time/place to get it.