Archives for July 2011

Run for Congo Women: Advocating for Congolese Women One Life-Saving Step at a Time

It’s one thing to run in fear for your own life, but to run in courage for the life of another is quite different.

That’s exactly what Stephanie Riggs, award-winning journalist, news anchor and talk radio host has planned along with other advocates of Congolese women on July 31, 2011 (3.1 mile) in Denver, Colorado. As a pro-active organizer of the “Run for Congo Women” — a global run/walk movement benefiting Women for Women International’s Congo program, she puts her feet to the street, literally!

WHY CONGO?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been labeled “the rape capital of the world”. Rape has long been used as a weapon of war that has physically ravaged, emotionally terrorized and financially oppressed women. The rapes are atrociously brutal often including physical objects, gang rape and the inflicting of AIDS. They are not limited to women, but also males and babies.

“Decades of brutality, dictatorships and corruption have given birth to a violence so dark, deadly and destructive that no female is safe.” –Stephanie Riggs

It’s hard to imagine that something as simple as a fundraising run could impact the life, freedom, and/or future of a woman, but it can and it does. In her gripping article, “Running for Their Lives” featured in the Colorado View Magazine (Summer 2010), she reports:

“The light has left their eyes; they carry such deep spiritual, physical and emotional pain that they have checked out as their bodies struggle to go on.”

THE ROOTS OF RUN FOR CONGO WOMEN

After learning that millions had died in Congo and that rape and torture were occurring in shocking numbers, Lisa Shannon, head of A Thousand Sisters ran a solo 30-mile run to sponsor Congolese women through Women for Women International. Her run launched Run for Congo Women, the first national grassroots effort for women in Congo.

Women for Women International works in eight war-torn and post-conflict countries in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. Their programs are designed to support women with financial assistance, job skills training, rights awareness education, trauma counseling, and small business assistance.

A CALL TO ACTION: LACE UP!

Many of us glibbly multi-task through our busy lives not giving any thought to our liberties. We take our secure borders, justice systems and educational opportunities for granted. In societies where women are free, we don’t question the idea of a woman’s ability to love and be loved or her freedom to become a leader–as a realistic possibility.

Yet countless women in places like the Congo live fetered to emotional bondage and in constant fear of rape, torture and sometimes murder of themselves or their children.

With help from advocates and feet-on-the-street efforts by Run for Congo Women and Women for Women International partners we can help women rebuild their lives. As we join forces to build a stronger voice, we collectively make way for Congolese women to become economically self-sufficient, healed emotionally and spiritually, and become leaders in their communities.

PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

So, do you want to run for Congolese Women? Once you register for Run for Congo Women, you’ll receive instructions on how to set up your own personal fundraising webpage. They even provide Fundraiser Tips and Talking Points making it easy to personalize your goals and share your mission with friends and family!

IT IS PERSONAL

One last note… It’s not about making it personal. A reported 1150 Congolese women are raped every day. They are afraid to work outside their homes. On a human level, they are not considered equal to men. Many have been infected with AIDS or have been so violated that their bodies are ravaged. Babies are being so brutally raped that many require colostomy bags, and women, reconstructive surgery.

So you see, it’s not about “making it personal” — It’s already personal.

How will you choose to make a difference?

GET INVOLVED

Register for the Denver, CO Run for Congo Women event

Find an Event near you!

Host/Coordinate a run/walk in your area

Visit Run for Congo Women Colorado Facebook

ABOUT STEPHANIE RIGGS

Stephanie Riggs is a veteran award-winning journalist, has contributed to CBS Sunday Morning, and 48 Hours. She hosts Denver’s Movers and Shakers on Vista TV Denver, a local lifestyle TV show on Comcast’s Channel 19 M-F at 7 p.m. Sat/Sun at 9:30 a.m. or watch online. She also hosts her own call-in radio show M-F at 2 p.m. on 94.7 FM KRKS or listen online to Divine Calling with Stephanie Riggs Facebook for podcasts. Stephanie is a regular contributor to Colorado View Magazine and she also blogs for CBS 4 News about the best of Denver.

LEARN MORE & TELL A FRIEND!

Women for Women International

A Thousand Sisters

Lisa Shannon’s Book: A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman

Sources: Journal of Public Health, Human Rights Watch, U.N. Report on Congo, Voice of America News, The Guardian UK, ABC News

© By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women –”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

(Photo by Andre Thiel)

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