When Ann contacted me asking if I would mention her charity Yoga for Congo Women and the upcoming worldwide yoga event, I countered by asking her to do a guest post instead. First, I love yoga. I don't practice regularly (although that might change in the near future) but since my first yoga lesson over 15 years ago I have enjoyed the practice and know I would benefit from doing it more regularly. Second, I like the idea of using yoga--a practice known for it's mental and emotional benefits as well as physical--to reach out to women in the Congo, arguably one of the most difficult places to be a woman in the world. Please take a minute to read Ann's post below and if you feel so inclined share this post on your social media feeds as well--lets spread the word!
My name is Ann Richmond. I'm blessed to live in the mountains with my amazing husband, six incredible daughters, and a funny little puppy. My husband and I run a charity called Yoga for Congo Women. We've held this event in cities all over the country, and for the first time, we will be holding it online, so that anyone, worldwide, can participate!
So all of us get mail, email, facebook messages, etc...long, long emails asking us for help.
Most of us really don’t have time for long emails.
But even more than that, we don’t have the capacity to take it. We get emails from charities of all kinds, all of us. We all go through psychic numbing, because the numbers are so immense and the problems are so painful that we physically cannot bear it or fathom it, and we shut it out. Don’t feel guilty…it’s a normal defense mechanism. We all do it in some way or another.
Since you're busy, I'll just give you the basic facts:
- The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began with the Rwandan genocide.
- It is the deadliest war since WWII, and also the most ignored.
- Over 7 million people are dead, with 45,000 more continuing to die each month.
- Innocent women are used as weapons in this war: warring militias compete to be the most brutal, and thus the most feared.
- Thousands of women (ranging from ages 3-80) are gang raped each month.
- Women are forced to watch as family members are kidnapped and killed.
- According to public health researcher Amber Peterman, it is estimated that 1152 women are raped in the DRC every day. That’s four, every 5 minutes. That means that there are already over three million rapes in the Congo. (Link here to her official report, If Numbers Could Scream.)
- Yes, this is happening RIGHT NOW.
- I can't stand it.
One is a tragedy. A million is a statistic. Right?
But what happens to each of those millions of people who is really ONE person, just like you or me?
If your friend was lost, hurt, or alone, you would care deeply, no matter how gruesome their life had turned out.
So today, I'd love to tell you about just one person. One woman. One friend.
Her name is Generose.
Just like me, she had six babies.
And just like me, she had a husband she loved very much.
Just like me, one of her worst fears was that terrible people would break into her home and hurt her family at night. Only for her, it was actually likely to happen. And it did.
You can imagine what happened to her next. And as if that wasn’t enough, her leg was also cut off by the militia (a punishment for crying out). Her husband and son were killed.
In a country the world has left for dead, you and I can only imagine what life was like for her and her remaining children after that.
Luckily, that’s not the end of the story.
Someone in Oregon decided to be her friend. One friend. One person who cared enough to do something.
"I believe God sent me [my sister] to rescue me from my misery." - Generose
So, to be more specific, one woman in Oregon decided to sponsor a woman in Congo through Women for Women International. Because of that sponsorship, Generose, like other women sponsored, received help. All women sponsored through Yoga for Congo are sponsored through the same program. Here is a description from our site: The women sponsored through this event will enter a one-year program through Women for Women, which will include rights awareness training, literacy and skills training, food, medicine, and clothing, as well as emotional assistance to recover and heal from the atrocities they have experienced. Upon completion of the program, they will receive seed money to begin their own small businesses, so that they may continue to sustain themselves and their families. This program could literally change and save their lives, and the lives of their children. To learn more about the program that Women for Women provides for these women, visit the Women for Women website.
As a result, Generose is now happy, healthy, and doing more than most of us do with both our legs.
You could be that friend for someone else.
For one hour, your life could intersect with another life and change it forever.
It just might change you, too.
Please. Let's join together for Yoga for Congo...hear the rest of Generose's story and the stories of others, people in Congo and people like you. Find hope you couldn't have imagined in "the worst place on earth to be a woman." Join us on November 1st for the first-ever Worldwide Yoga for Congo Women Event!
You can visit this page to see more details about the event. Basically, on November 1st, people can visit our website at any time to view the worldwide broadcast. It is free, requires no registration, and lasts one hour only. After, they are free to donate if they choose. As a bonus, anyone who donates receives a free Yoga for Congo beanie from me in the mail.