The other day I saw a story about a mother in Congo that I can't get out of my head.
Generose, a Congolese mother of three, was home one night with her family when Hutu extremist militiamen burst in, killed her husband, and started to rape her. When she screamed, they cut off her leg. Then they cooked it on the kitchen fire and told her children to eat it. Two did. Her 12-year-old son refused -- and the militiamen killed him.
This really happened. Can you imagine? The idea of seeing these men in my home, waving guns at my children, showing they'd kill us in a heartbeat. And seeing my son choosing death, when losing my baby boy would wound me so much more deeply than losing a leg. Envisioning how I'd be screaming and begging him to do what the men say. I just can't stop thinking about it.
There's a video of Generose telling her story, a real mom, sitting next to her two remaining children. To see these wide-eyed children and imagine those little people being menaced by guns -- the world seems totally insane. (Note: the story and video are from Nicholas Kristof at NYtimes.com, who regularly reports on international human rights at the intersection of health, gender, and poverty. He tells the stories that happen to people in the wake of global politics and business.)
What's the hopeful part? An American named Lisa Shannon saw a similar story five years ago on Oprah, and since then, she's given her life over to helping women in Congo. She paid Generose's medical bills, for one thing, but more than that, she's founded an organization called Run for Congo Women that holds runs across the country, and in three other countries as well. The money she raises is distributed through Women for Women International.
I have no idea how to even start to help end the astounding violence in Congo. (Here's Kristof's follow-up to the Lisa story, including another "everyday" story about a mother being shot while holding her one-year old, who was found a day later by her body, still nursing.) But I do know that I can help support organizations that help mothers trying to hold their families together. So here's a final link: Kristof's blog entry on how you can help.