Many of you know of my philanthropic efforts to assist women and young girls domestically and abroad to become educated, empowered, and elevated above their current lifestyle…experience…condition; and free from rape, torture, and the heightened probability of death due to victimization from war, or lack of resources at their disposal.
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th) I want to share with you the work of one of the charities that I support…Women for Women International. Two of the war torn countries that Women for Women International works within to provide tools and resources for survival and self-sufficiency of women and their families, are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
For those of you who are not familiar with the history of the DRC and Rwanda, and the impact on both country’s women and children, let me share some horrifying facts with you…
It has been estimated that roughly 500,000 women and girls in Rwanda were raped, tortured and physically abused during the genocide that began in 1994. The country’s population is 70% female with more than half of the households ran by women; 80% of which are widows.
In the DRC it has been cited that in more than a decade of conflict and war there has been over 5.4 million deaths and hundreds of thousands of women raped, tortured, and beaten. Women in the DRC face kidnapping, mutilation, rape and torture from soldiers of both foreign militias and the Congolese army as they are being held as hostages.
Over 1/4 million children in Rwanda have been made orphans due to AIDS. “Despite the extreme poverty many Rwandans find room in their hearts to adopt as many as 6 orphaned children, treating every child like their own, a mantra of the country and its President, Paul Kagame
” (Women for Women International Website)
Due to the strength of the women in Rwanda their ability to finally speak up and speak out after years of silence has led to the act of rape to be prosecuted as a war crime. In 2003, 49% of parliaments seats were filled by women. But these strides don’t mean that women are completely free from the effects of war.
The women of the DRC and Rwanda need our help so that they can help themselves. Women for Women International has served more than 40,000 women in both countries, and through Women for Women International you can help a woman gain the sense of self-worth, the ability to provide for her family with dignity and respect, and bring her one step closer to living in peace. These women are not looking for charity…they are looking for the opportunity to stand up and speak out; get training and develop the necessary skills to become self-sufficient…while being blessed with the chance to provide for and protect their children.
Join me and others this Sunday, March 7, 2010 at the 17th Street Bridge in Atlanta, Georgia from 12:00-1:00pm as we come together to participate in Women for Women International’s global campaign, Join Me on the Bridge, working together towards building peaceful bridges between the countries of Rwanda and the Congo. On this day we stand together on the 17th Street Bridge, and display peace banners to honor these women and millions of others who have survived war worldwide. Join Me on the Bridge unites women from around the world in a global movement that shows we can build bridges towards the development of a fruitful future.
I hope to see you there…men also…we’d love for you to join us so that you too can stand up and speak out for the very women that could be your mother, aunt, sister, niece, grand daughter, cousin, or your daughter.
You can register in advance (yes, the event is free), or if you can’t attend please find it in your heart to donate anything so that we can stand as family and say NO to war and YES to peace, love, and hope!
For more information on Women for Women International click here
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman.
Image Source: Women for Women International Website http://www.womenforwomen.org/