I promise I have 80's pics. Right now though, I just gotta get this out.
I've been trying to keep on top of the humanitarian crisis in the DRC for a while now. I signed up for V-Day updates back in February, if not before, because I became aware that the worldwide press corps had barely scratched the surface of what was happening. Of course there were the few and the faithful that kept on reporting, but by no means had this crisis come to the world's attention. Eve Ensler's eloquent voice is helping to change that little, by little. I encourage everyone to look at her site and to read her stories.
In the past week, the crisis has come to a head and the American press has got their heads out of there asses (or perhaps out of the economic "crisis" in America and the election) to report on the Congo, and while I have sort of known this has been going on the whole time, seeing live reporting from the IDP camps is just about the most devastating thing I have ever seen, second only to live footage I've seen of the Rwandan genocide. People are suffering, starving. It always seems that women and children bear the brunt of this sort of thing, and that is certainly clear in photos and videos. The UN sits there ineffectively because no one wants to "get involved." No one wants another Mogadishu I guess, which is understandable...but...still though, how can they just sit there and watch what is happening around them? It seems after eight years in the Congo they might have actually reached the breaking point and are looking to engage, looking for reinforcements, but how likely is that to come now, after all this?
I chalk up this lack of action to a number of things - mostly the fact that there are things happening behind closed doors all over the world's capitals that I don't understand. I guess that's the only way I can even accept the fact that barely anything is being done. Eve Ensler wonders the same thing in her recent editorial at the Huffington Post - what is the root of our apathy?
It's funny because during the presidential debates, all I wanted to hear about is what each candidate's plans were for Africa. What would America's policies towards Africa be? I got nothing. Of course the economy is bad, I get it, but what about everything else? What about Darfur? What about the Congo? What about all the people suffering and dying? Doesn't anyone care? Doesn't anyone want to help?
I want to help, but I don't know how. I sit here and watch streaming videos and click through photos and try to absorb as much information as possible to pass on to people who ask me about the crisis (it's strange that just because I've been to Africa I suddenly become the point person amongst family, friends and acquaintences regarding all questions Africa - though I've only been to Kenya!) My mother said to me recently how things were so bad in the Congo. I told they've been bad for years, awful rape, torture, mutilation. Yeah, she said, but it's been really bad this week. I got so frustrated. I was like IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN BAD. Since effing King Leopold. Since the world powers decided Lumumba was too popular and too powerful and had him killed to put Mobutu in power. These things have a long history in Congo and the violence is years old. She kept insisting that it was worse than ever, and while I agree, I'm not so sure she had any idea of how bad it has BEEN. I guess I just want more people to know. I don't know what we can do right now except donate money to the V-Day campaign and other humanitarian organizations trying to help in the DRC, but as an obsessive fixer, I can't help but want to do more. I don't even know where to start though. I just sit here, watching videos, waiting for the one that tells me that a change is coming and things will get better. For now, I will start drafting my letter to Joseph Kabila and tell him he must protect my African sisters.
Thanks for letting me vent.
On a lighter note, watch this. It's about Kenyans and Obama and is pretty hilarious.