I took a trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Africa that opened my eyes. I went into the Congo with a medical team in 2005 and have traveled back many times since, including the adoption of our 4th daughter. I have come to learn about the ongoing struggles the Congolese deal with on a daily basis. From poverty, civil unrest, violence against women and children, and the millions of orphaned children in the DRC and throughout Africa.
I bring my travels to your attention in an effort to help raise awareness and support. Since my first trip to DRC, I have become more educated about the mass atrocities and genocide that are ongoing in Africa today. For example, since 2003, the Sudanese government has orchestrated and waged a deliberate campaign or murder, rape and displacement against the people of the Darfur region. More than 400,000 people have died, thousands of women have been violated, and more than 2 million people have been displaced and forced to live in refugee camps. I recommend visiting the following Websites for current updates about the ongoing situation in Darfur and other parts of Africa:
Learn more about what you can do to save lives in Darfur, Congo, and other parts of Africa and the world that currently need support (e.g., Haiti).
President Barack Obama recently appointed another senior U.S. diplomat to work alongside Scott Gration, U.S. Special Envoy for peace in Sudan. Ambassador Dane Smith, a veteran diplomat, will head the Darfur file for the US Government. This is another positive step to help save Darfur, especially before the upcoming elections where the people of southern Sudan are going to vote for separation in early January.
George Clooney, actor and board member of the NOT ON OUR WATCH PROJECT, recently visited southern Sudan and also met with President Obama. Please visit this link to learn more about his trip and the ongoing situation in Darfur:
I am now a board of director of Our Family Adoptions, a 501(c)3 non-profit adoption agency, which help facilitate adoptions out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I am also involved and support the SAVE DARFUR, NOT ON OUR WATCH PROJECT and the ENOUGH campaigns to help end the atrocities and genocide currently happening in Darfur. I urge readers to do some research and get involved in helping the people in Africa, especially in Sudan and the Congo.
The outlook for the DRC - a nation endowed with vast natural resource wealth – diminished drastically since the mid-1980s. Two conflicts (the 1st and 2nd Congo Wars, sometimes jointly called the African World War), have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 5.4 million people from war, famine, and disease, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, and the stabilization of DRC’s elected government, fighting continues in the east of the country. Many independently-organized rebel groups use guerilla tactics against the population. The prevalence of rape and sexual violence is the worst in the world. There are an estimated 5 million orphans in the DRC alone. Although the size of the conflict and the horrors inflicted upon the population of DRC are unmatched in the modern world, the war and it consequences have been poorly-reported in western media.
We can help make a difference. Call on your elected representatives to take action; Educate your community; Make a donation to support emergency and lifesaving programs; write an op-ed or Blog about it via your local newspaper.
On January 9th, Southern Sudan will vote for its independence. The country is currently led by an indicted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir. Both north and south are preparing for war, leaving civilians at grave risk of major human rights violations. The U.S. Secretary of State has called the situation a "ticking time bomb." The CIA has said that "mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in Southern Sudan." President Obama has said that "the stakes are enormous."
My eyes have been opened and I hope to open others. We have a brief window of opportunity to do something that has rarely been done: stop a war before it starts in Sudan.