Don’t close your eyes

There are I subjects I don’t really want to talk about….or even think about for that matter. Topics that make me monitor my breathing so that I don’t throw up. Human trafficking/sex slavery is one of them.

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But we have to talk about it. We have to shed light on the subject because it is one that enslaves (mostly) women throughout the world.

Did you know that eastern Congo is the rape capital of the world?

(In eastern Congo), militias consider it risky to engage in firefights with other gunmen, so instead, they assault civilians. They discovered the most cost-effective way to terrorize civilian populations is to conduct rapes of stunning brutality. Frequently the Congolese militias rape women with sticks, or knives, or bayonets, or else they fire their guns into women’s vaginas.” –Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn

Um, whoa. That’s horrible. Unthinkable. Unimaginable.

But, what can I do about something like that? How can anybody in MN affect change in eastern Congo?

I’ll tell you.

The Upper Room church in Edina, MN partners with a mission called HEAL Africa (http://www.healafrica.org/). HEAL Africa is a hospital that helps women like Dina, a teenager that was raped by 5 men when she was coming home from working in the fields in the town of Kindu. 4 of the men held her down as 1 of the men shoved a stick inside of her, over and over again. She was left for dead on the side of the road where her father and friends found her after she didn’t come home that night.

“The stick had broken into her bladder and rectum, causing a fistula, or holes, in the tissue. As a result, urine and feces constantly tricked through her vagina and down her legs. These injuries, rectovaginal and vescovanginal fistulas, are common in Congo because of sexual violence.” –Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn

Dina was eventually taken to HEAL Africa’s hospital where she had multiple surgeries and countless hours of rehabilitation. Not only that, but when she wasn’t doing her rehab, she was given the chance for skill-training in reading, sewing, weaving baskets, making soap or making bread.

Yeah, but how can I personally get involved in that ministry?

The #1 way is to know that it that the problem exists. Educate yourself. Scour the HEAL Africa website. Read “Half the Sky:Turning Opression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

The #2 way is to realize that it happens right under your noses. Check out this article about “at least 570 would-be sex buyers (or johns) and 23 so-called sex traffickers — men taken into custody on charges of pimping, trafficking or promoting prostitution” that were “taken off the streets in the ‘National Day Of Johns Arrests’ effort” according to Illinois’ Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Congo does it in the streets with sticks, America does it in hotels across the country with condom-less penises. Just because we do it in secret doesn’t make it ANY different.

The #3 way is to ask yourself is to ask yourself if you have the means to make a hands-on difference. Harper McConnell, a MN native, travels to the Congo to “give back” to women that desperately need assistance. That is not the reality for most of us. But, she has a suggestion of ways you can help without getting on a plane: give the gift of airline miles. Are you saving up your airline miles to fly your family to Disneyworld? How about adding to that savings plan 1 round trip ticket to Congo that you can then donate to HEAL Africa?

Bottom line: This is my problem. This is our problem. That is my sister being raped with a sticks. That is my daughter who ran away from home and thought a pimp would take care of her and ended up in a seedy motel with a john after the big game. God help us to know how we can make a difference.

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