You may have noticed my Twitter post about Jeffery Gettleman's NYT article Rape Victim's Words Help Jolt Congo Into Change. It was a follow up to an older story, Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War. These are powerful and gut-wrenching pieces that I seriously believe you should read. I do not say this because I think that everyone has to be steeped in the details of the worst atrocities on earth simply for the sake of knowing. I do not believe that impotence is very inspiring. I post these articles first, because they show that concerned individuals do make a difference and second, because I believe more can be done.
Gettleman's latest article speaks of the various efforts being made to address the rape crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some of these efforts are government driven, some local. In the United States, V-Day has an active campaign going that both places pressure on the government and helps traumatized women on the ground. V-Day could use your donations.
All of this is important, but so much more is necessary. The Congo is politically and economically unstable. Also, like so many other places in the world, women have little say over their own lives even in the calmer times. Studies have shown time and time again that societies improve when woman are empowered and that the foundation of that empowerment must be economic. Personal income equates to personal control. That's why I believe in microlending, and that's why I choose to lend exclusively to women when I use Kiva.
If you do not know about Kiva, please check it out. I had planned to write an article about it today, but this took precedent. In short, Kiva allows you to become a financier of entrepreneurs around the globe. Microlending is a potent force for change in the poorest regions of the world. I know that Kiva has already loaned to businesses in the Congo. Here is my question. Would Kiva lending be that much more potent if it focused on the traumatized regions of the world?
Here is what I would like to do. I want to ask Kiva to send its people into the Congo to set up contacts with the microlending organizations there. I believe in what Kiva is doing. I think their efforts could mean more here than elsewhere.
I am going to draft a letter asking Kiva to focus more attention on the Congo. If anyone has ideas on how best to shape this letter, or has reasonable objections, add to the conversation on the Discussion page. Also, if anyone knows how to create one of those online petitions that multiple people can sign, let me know. Thank you.