Tag Archives: Democratic Republic of Congo

Walk for Congo with CongoSwim

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGIn conjunction with Orange Days to end violence against women and girls, CongoSwim brings together Presbyterians and people of good will to witness and raise funds to

In solidarity with the Walk for Congo in Oakland, CA, I will walk 5k (a little over 3 miles) with family members in Cleveland Heights August 23rd. If you are in town and would like to walk with us, let me know. In support of my participation, please consider the below ways to support groups working for lasting peace and an end to violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  1. Pray.  Lift up all families and leaders in Congo.
  2. Advocate. One of the top requests from community leaders in Congo is for the full implementation of an existing US law regarding how the US extends military aid within the region. Click HERE to order a postcard to mail to Secretary of State Kerry.  The postcards have already helped create a change in the way the U.S. officials have chosen recent policy for Congo. Details about the US law are in the 30 minute documentary Crisis in the Congo which you can watch on the VIDEOS page.
  3. Donate. Click the ‘Donate’ button below to give what you can.  You may specify my name as the participant you are supporting.  Details about the groups we are raising funds for are on the Who We Support page.  Thank you!

DONATE

If you prefer to give by check, make it payable to Friends of the Congo and put CongoSwim and my name in the memo line.  Mail your check  to:

Friends of the Congo
1629 K St., NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
 
See you along the Trail
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, Family, Friends

Get in the swim … or the walk

congoswim_flyer_8.5_x_11_jpeg_medium350Last summer, I took part in the CongoSwim, I did not swim. I walked. On a warm, sunny Louisville day, I walked 22,000 steps. 1,000 steps for each mile across Lake Tahoe where the organizers swam.
Participants and donors made it possible for five women and youth-led groups in the DR Congo to receive grants. The Who We Support page contains information about the work the groups are doing for lasting peace and a future free of violence against women and children.
A CongoSwim will take place again this summer. I will take part. I will walk again. I have not determined how far or where or when, but I will walk.
I invite you to show your support this summer by doing at least one of the following:
  1. Register a summer activity – CongoSwim has expanded beyond swimming and participants are even dedicating their summer-long fitness goals and BBQs with friends
  2. Click DONATE to make a tax-deductible donation
  3. Encourage a child to participate by sharing the FOR KIDS page
  4. Join the August 15 Lake Tahoe Relay (youngest swimmer is 8 and oldest is over 70!)
  5. Sign-up for the August 23 CongoSwim Lake Merritt Walk
  6. Like CongoSwim on Facebook

Get in the swim … or the walk … or support the effort in some other way.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Exercise, Human Rights, United Nations

Walking while wearing orange

Koenig 22KI celebrated this Orange Day by walking 22,000 steps in support of the CongoSwim initiative to funds to address sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed every 25th of the month as Orange Day to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.

At the heart of the CongoSwim was a 22-mile swim across Lake Tahoe – hence 22,000 steps.

It is not too late for you to: wear orange today, act to end violence against women and girls, and to give to CongoSwim.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, Human Rights

Today I wear orange and I walk

photo-4I wear orange today to call for an end to violence against women and girls.

I will walk 22,000 steps today to support the efforts of CongoSwim to bring an end to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I invite you to make a financial gift to support this effort.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Exercise

Walking to end violence against women and girls

I have posted before about my upcoming participation in CongoSwim, a unique and inspiring collective action which will culminate on August 25th to send a WAVE of LOVE to women and youth groups working for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  With apologies to my father (he taught me to swim), I will not swim. But I will walk – 1,000 steps for each mile across Lake Tahoe for a total of 22,000 steps – and I will pray.

You can support me by making a tax-deductible donation in my name.

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGMost of us directly benefit daily from the minerals mined in Congo as they are essential to the functioning of our laptops, phones, cars and many other products.  CongoSwim is one way we can support work to end the suffering millions of families are enduring in the international scramble for Congo’s minerals.  CongoSwim takes place on an Orange Day, a call to action from the United Nations campaign to end violence against women and girls.  The specific focus for August 25 is sexual violence in conflict.

If the fundraising effort goes well, up to sixty different Congolese community groups doing vital work, often with extremely limited resources, will be able to receive a grant from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo.  The benefiting groups focus on initiatives to end violence against women and girls, human rights education and advocacy, support to women run businesses, increased girls’ education, youth leadership development and services for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Some of the funds raised also will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s mission of saving lives and building champions-in the pool and in life.

One of the main requests from Congolese youth and women leaders is that we urge our government to demonstrate the political will to support peace and sustainable development in Congo.  Millions of people have died, endured tremendous violence and/or been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Congo. UNHCR reported 13,000 people arriving in one day alone to a single refugee camp after attacks in July.  CongoSwim has developed a simple Advocacy Action for peace.

In support of my participation, please

  • Donate generously.  Every amount matters!  Be sure to specify my name as the participant you are supporting.  You may also mail a check payable to Friends of the Congo with CongoSwim and my name in the memo line.  Every amount matters!  Mail to:
    Friends of the Congo-CongoSwim
    1629 K St., NW Suite 300
    Washington, DC 20006
  • Send a quick, yet critical message to Secretary of State Kerry
  • Ask at least 3 other people you know to donate and advocate through CongoSwim

I am proud take part in CongoSwim because it provides us all the opportunity to address the violation of women’s rights.  I am honored to take part with an amazing community, the youngest is age 3 and the oldest is 92.  Participants include Coco Ramazani, a Congolese survivor of extreme violence who now lives in the US and is speaking out with CongoSwim.

Thank you in advance for supporting this effort.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Exercise, Human Rights, United Nations

End violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGWomen face violence in many forms and in many places – domestic violence in the home, sexual abuse of girls in schools, sexual harassment at work, structural violence that demeans and limits and excludes, rape by partners or strangers, economic violence that values and rewards men at higher levels than women, assault in refugee camps or focused violence, physical and sexual, as a tactic of war.

Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo know violence well. Conflict and war has ripped parts of the country since 1996. During the conflict, hundreds of thousands of women and children in the eastern DRC have endured sexual violence.  In some instances, the sexual violence is a byproduct of the war. At the same time, the violation of women and girls is systematically and strategically used as a weapon.

Such an atrocity, in the DRC or in other places, is an affront to decency and an abuse of human rights. Around the world people organize and work to end violence against women.

Here’s a way you can help end sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Support the CongoSwim on August 25.

Organized by the Congo Team of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in California, CongoSwim provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in terms of sexual violence against women and girls. August 25 is an Orange Day – a day to witness and work for an end to violence against women and girls. CongoSwim participants are encouraged to raise funds for the Congolese grassroots groups receiving grants from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo. Some of the funds raised will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, to prevent children from drowning in the US. Swimming is not the only way to take part.

Presbyterians are participating in several ways. Zephyr Point Conference Center will offer free lodging for the participants who swim Lake Tahoe. White Plains Presbyterian Church will mark the day with a slip and slide on their lawn. I will engage in prayer and walk to support this effort.

Learn more and register your participation.

Make a donation.

Find your own way to work for an end to violence against women and girls! It is past time – well past time.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, United Nations

Get in the swim

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGHelp address sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sign up now to participate in CongoSwim on August 25. Organized by the Congo Team of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in California, CongoSwim provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in terms of sexual violence against women and girls. August 25 is an Orange Day – a day to witness and work for an end to violence against women and girls.

CongoSwim participants are encouraged to raise funds for Congolese grassroots groups receiving grants from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo. A portion of the funds raised will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, to prevent children from drowning in the US.

Swimming is not the only way to participate. I am going to pray and walk on August 25 to support this effort. When you donate, you could do so in my name.

Learn more and register now.

See you along the Trail.

1 Comment

Filed under Current Events

CongoSwim – 25 August 2013

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGYesterday I signed up to take part in the CongoSwim. Held on August 25, a UN Orange Day to witness and work to end violence against women, CongoSwim will raise awareness about violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly against women. The event will also raise funds to care for the victims of violence and to help prevent future violence.

Swimmers across the nation are joining CongoSwim 2013, a collective call to action to break the silence about the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II and the worst humanitarian crisis of our time by sending a WAVE of Love to people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

CongoSwim 2013 will take place worldwide on August 25 when swimmers and ‘not yet swimmers’ will swim in solidarity with Congolese working for peace and stability in the heart of Africa.

Coco Ramazani is a young survivor of systematic rape in eastern Congo whose horrific story is told in Tell This to My Mother by Joseph E Mwantuali.  To mark the global event to spotlight how soldiers are ordered to rape women and children to destroy communities in the scramble for Congo’s resources, Coco will take part in a healing ceremony on the pilot boat while CongoSwim founder Keris Dahlkamp strives to swim 22 miles across Lake Tahoe, expected to take him 12-14 hours.  Rape as a weapon of war has been used around the world throughout history, yet an overwhelming silence remains.

International model Noella Coursaris Musunka, founder of The Georges Malaika School for Girls in Kalebuka, southeast Congo will host a party with the students in solidarity on August 25.  Nunu Kidane, the Director of Priority Africa Network, who was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House, will be swimming in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kidane says:

“I’m coordinating a swim with members of my local YMCA because what has been happening in eastern Congo is similar to what happened in the Holocaust, protracted over many years. Little attention has been paid and few are asking why. As in the past, when the full scale of the reality is finally revealed, many will ask ‘how can this be? I did not know.’ We all need to be involved for our common and shared humanity.“

Join Charles Chapman of New York, the first African-American to swim the English Channel, along with various Girl Scout troops, college super swimmers and senior citizens who have registered unique swim actions to take place in their communities on August 25.  Families are encouraged to register their child’s swim lessons or participation on a swim team with CongoSwim. This unique and inspiring collective swim was organized by volunteers in observance of Orange Day, a call to action by the United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls.

There is no registration fee, but participants are encouraged to raise funds for the Congolese grassroots groups receiving grants from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo.  A portion of the funds raised will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, to prevent children from drowning in the US.  Upon registering, participants receive a Swim Pack with sample fundraising letters, facts about the Congo as well as tips for talking with children about injustice.

Why Congo?

  • In northeastern Congo, the greatest humanitarian crisis since WWII has claimed an estimated six million lives from war related causes, half being children under the age of 5.
  • Rape as a weapon of war. Hundreds of thousands, some say millions, of women and children in Congo have endured extreme and systematic sexual violence by government and militia soldiers.
  • Vital to the fight against climate change. Congo is a part of the second largest rainforest in the world.
  • An abundance of minerals, which help power our laptops, cellphones and many other products we use daily are mined in Congo
  • Public Law 109-456, the U.S. government has a law on its books that can help advance peace and democracy in the Congo. It was sponsored by President Obama when he was Senator but it has yet to be fully implemented.

The ingenuity, vision and resiliency of the people are far greater than the mineral wealth of Congo. Thousands of Congolese women and youth leaders are organizing a movement denouncing violence and bringing solutions to national and world leaders. In solidarity with this movement, CongoSwim 2013 uses swimming as a vehicle to raise consciousness and support for the worldwide movement for a peaceful, just and dignified Congo.

Watch for more about how and why I will participate later. For now, think about taking part yourself.

See you along the Trail.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Human Rights, United Nations

Making the most of our time: Roberto Clemente

I had not planned to make this post. It is an excerpt from a sermon I preached today. However, thanks to a friend, I learned that yesterday would have been Roberto Clemente’s 78th birthday and posting seemed important. The text is Ephesians 5:15-20.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) met in Pittsburgh this summer. For some of those who attending, this marked the first time they had journeyed to the city built around three rivers. For me, it marked something of a homecoming. As I child, my family lived for about eight years on Neville Island about five or six miles from where the Ohio River begins in Pittsburgh.

Much has changed over the years since my family lived there. But when I walked into the Westin Hotel, I knew that I had returned home. There on the wall hung a picture of Roberto Clemente—the hero of my childhood who has remained my hero through the years.

Clemente hailed from Puerto Rico and played right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 18 years. One of the first Hispanic players, he played in the face of prejudice—he faced jeers and slurs. People who had only one language mocked him for speaking English—his second language—poorly. Because of the prejudice against Hispanic players and because he played in the small market town of Pittsburgh, Clemente never received the acclaim as a player that he deserved until late in his career.

And he deserved acclaim because he could play. He won twelve Golden Gloves for his defense. He had one of the strongest throwing arms that have ever been seen. He ended his career with 3,000 hits.

The people of Puerto Rico and Pittsburgh admired Clemente for his athletic ability but even more we admired him and we admire him for the way he lived his life off the field. In the words of Ephesians, he “made the most of his time.”

Clemente engaged in humanitarian work in Puerto Rico and in Pittsburgh alike. He demanded respect for himself and the people of Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. He worked for people who lived in poverty and responded to the needs of his sisters and brothers. He reached out to children and provided them with opportunities to develop their own athletic talents. In 1973, Clemente was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the first Presidential Citizens Medal. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Baseball has named its annual award for community involvement after Clemente.

A massive earthquake hit Managua, Nicaragua on December 21, 1972. The quake devastated the city, with thousands either dead or left homeless. Clemente organized relief efforts in Puerto Rico. When he learned that some of the aid had ended up in the pockets of the leaders and had not reached the people of Nicaragua, Clemente decided to deliver the next shipment personally. On New Year’s Eve, he stepped into a DC-7 plane along with the supplies and headed for Nicaragua. Not long after takeoff the plane suddenly lost altitude and crashed somewhere into the waters off Puerto Rico. Clemente’s body was never found.

I tell his story this morning, because the United Nations has designated today, August 19, as World Humanitarian Day. The day marks the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. That bombing killed 22 people present to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq. The UN chose the day to pay tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello and the other individuals who died in Iraq and others who gave their lives while seeking to serve sisters and brothers in need.

It is also a day to give thanks for those individuals and groups who continue to help people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. It is a day when we remember that we all can make a difference when we show that we care and do something for someone else. In the language of the church, this is a day to invite, to challenge us all to make the most of our time by loving others as God in Jesus Christ loves us. Of course that is not just a task for a day—it is a calling for a lifetime.

On this World Humanitarian Day, I give thanks for the life and witness of Roberto Clemente. I advocated for an end to violence against women and for the strong regulations on minerals that fuel conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places. And I made a financial gift to efforts to address leukemia. Tomorrow I will need to find other actions.

See you along the Trail.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Study war no more

It is found in the United Nations building, part of the display about the UN’s work on militarism.

Each time I see it,  the picture touches a chord of hope in my heart. My soul sings.

We can lay our weapons down – by the riverside – in the desert – on the street corners – wherever we may be – we can lay our weapons down. And study war no more. And begin the hard work of building a just peace.

Yesterday I toured the UN. And the picture carried even deeper meaning than usual. The International Criminal Court had announced its first verdict ever. In that decision, the court found Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty of conscripting, enlisting, and actively using children under the age of 15 in hostilities in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2002 and 2003.

The court’s decision  underscored the picture’s meaning. The picture underscored the court’s decision.

Art and the judicial process intertwining to proclaim hope.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Human Rights, Photo

%d bloggers like this: