Recent Attacks on Women in the Congo...Aid is Needed

Dear Friends,

I write to you today with heavy heart thinking about the recent tragedy that has occurred in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In case you are unaware, reports show that rebels in eastern Congo gang-raped nearly 200 women and some young boys during a four-day period between July 30 and August 3 (young boys are said to be babies aged one month, six months, a year and 18 months). International Medical Corps responded as soon as they could...please see articles below. Details of this massive attack are unimaginable and heartbreaking. Who would think that in 2010 women and children would be victimized in such a horrific manner. It is unacceptable and awareness must be raised!

Relief and aid in the Congo is needed more than ever. As I mentioned in my previous post since I started this campaign over 2 years ago, the level of need and aid has not decreased...these brutal attacks against women continue and medical and psycho-social support is still needed. Rape is still being used as a weapon of war and less expensive than a bullet, but more devastating to any society.

I am a westerner, privileged to live in a place where I can be an independent and empowered woman, self sufficient, educated, surrounded by people that I care for and care for me, with the freedom to pursue my dreams and passions. I am so blessed... as so many reading this blog are!! We have so much to be grateful for and we are also in a position to GIVE BACK! As I read more and more about these victims, I try to put myself in their shoes and when I do, all I can think about is the utter despair I would feel if any such occurrence ever happened to me. I think about how would I recover? What resources would I need? What emotional support would help me? Would I need financial assistance? Could I realistically ever recover from such a horrific experience? Most of these women have no one to turn to but non-profit organizations working diligently in the area to provide the best response support available, but they need resources. These attacks have not only terrorized the victims themselves, but also their families and communities. Many of the rapes were actually conducted in front of their children and husbands. Will they be accepted back in the community is also a do they recover from being humiliated in front of those they love most?

I wanted to include a link to the article that got me launched on this entire journey written by Eve Ensler . One day while trying to find ideas for a stylish new hair cut, I came across this article instead, and it honestly changed my life. For whatever reason I felt an instant bond to these women I had never met, merely by the fact that as a woman myself, the attacks described were my worst unimaginable nightmare. How could I, a woman, sit back and let other women be victimized in this manner without doing anything at all... I couldn’t. I have set a lofty goal of trying to raise a little over $2 Million for this cause, and I am a long ways from this target and I know I cannot do it alone, but need others to get involved and fortunately others have. We have held successful fundraising hiking events, a group Kilimanjaro climb, and others have independently volunteered to dedicate their next challenge to the campaign and help these fellow women. It has been very rewarding to help encourage and inspire others to pursue their challenges for this amazing cause....I hope more of you are inspired to join us in our efforts!! I am in the process of organizing a Stair Climb event in a high skyscraper both in San Francisco or Los Angeles and New York. My aim is to get these launched no later than February 2011. In addition, I am hoping to present fundraising slideshows on my latest climbs, most notably the Denali climb that took place this May. Lastly, I am headed to Everest in the Spring and others on the team will also dedicate their climb to the summit or trek to base camp to the campaign. The Everest Climb will have two beneficiary charities working diligently in the Congo: International Medical Corps and V-Day. Both of these organizations have made tremendous impact in the lives of women in the Congo and they need our support.
If what you read in the articles below touches your heart in some way and you would like to get involved in making a difference....PLEASE contact me! You do not need to climb any mountains to do so...unless you want to of course :) Together we can make a difference and raise awareness. If people lack the general knowledge of the crisis in the Congo, together we can educate them.

I know my journey to help these women will not end once I reach the 7 summits, as I cannot forget them after these climbs are done. I met many rape survivors in my visit to Uganda last year to a refugee settlement supported by International Medical Corps, where much of the population were Congolese refugees that had fled and been able to find refuge and support in this settlement. Their stories, their pain, their struggle to survive, and most importantly their strength and perseverance will stay with me always. They are an inspiration I feel for anyone (especially other women) to be strong and keep fighting the fight regardless of how ugly the past may be.

So in closing, please read some of these links and share this information. I hope that anyone reading this will join me in trying to raise support and awareness for these women and amazing organizations that are working hard to make their lives a little better. All donations are tax deductible and go 100% directly to International Medical Corps.