Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am running for Congo Women

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that this week I started training to run (well...jog is more like it) a 5k. It's all part of my yearlong quest to get fit, healthy and fabulous as I approach my 40 birthday. To motivate myself and ensure that I stick with my recent healthy lifestyle changes, I decided to sign up for a fall 5k. But I wanted to participate in an event that would do more than allow me to exercise my body. I wanted to find a 5k event that revolved around an important issue--something that would allow me to flex my social "muscle" as well.

Thanks to my blogsister Renee at Womanist Musings, I've found my event. I have signed up for the Run for Congo Women in Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Are you familiar with what's happening in Congo? Militias from many countries are pillaging villages and attacking civilians. Women as old as 80 and as young as 5 have been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Despite the country's enormous mineral wealth, several years of war, on the heels of 32 years of corrupt, dictatorial rule under Mobutu Sese Seko, (1965-1997), has shattered the country's infrastructure, economy, and ability to provide basic services such as health and education.
More hope than ever has arisen, with a peace treaty in 2003, and recent elections. And yet...

More than 5.4 million people have died.
38,000 continue to die every month, 1200 a day.
Half of these deaths are children under the age of 5 years.
Most children don't reach their 5th birthday.
Women are targeted daily for gang rape, torture, and sexual slavery.

THIS IS THE DEADLIEST WAR SINCE WORLD WAR II. And yet we don't talk about the Congo. Never heard of this conflict? You aren't alone. Most people haven't. It receives almost no news coverage.

The Congolese people know they have not been worth the effort in the eyes of the world. "When 5.4 million people have died, and no one cares, we don't feel human anymore." - Jean Paul, Congolese man.

Run for Congo Women was created by everyday women to send a message of hope and dignity to women living through this conflict.

We are raising awareness and sponsorships through Women for Women International's Congo program. For $27/ month we can sponsor a war affected woman with support groups, rights awareness, job training, literacy, and other training, as well money to use at her discretion, and we can exchange letters with her. The goal is self-sufficiency within 1 year.

Today, I committed $27/month to a woman in the Congo. Surely, I can give up a few iTunes downloads and Starbucks cappucinos to help ensure a sister can live a better, healthier and safer life. Can you help me?

Here are some ways you can help:

Are you near the Chicago area? Sign up for the Windy City's Run for Congo Women and launch your own fund-raising campaign. We'll finish the run together! There are also other runs around the country.

Support my run. My goal is to at least raise enough to support one woman for one year--$324. If you're one of my IRL friends reading this, be assured I'll be stalking you with my donation sheet. If you are one of my cyberbuddies, donate using the PayPal "donate" button below.

Sign up to sponsor a woman in Congo through Women for Women International or donate a flat amount to Women for Women International's Congo Program.

Congolese lives matter. The lives of Congolese women are significant. The lives of Congolese children are precious. The have waited far too long. They are worth our effort. I am running to help.









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