Africa’s Holocaust

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a civil war which supposedly ended over 5 years ago, goes on. Over six million people have been killed during the past six years. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of New Zealand – or New York City – dead. Its also the approximate number of Jew’s killed in the Holocaust, the first major genocide. Like every other genocide, it is being largely ignored. Half of all deaths are of children under the age of five – a quarter of all children born in the Congo today won’t make it to the age of 5.

The worst of the violence though, is being committed against women. Rape has become the weapon of choice of the Congolese military, as well as the “Mai Mai” militias, civilians, UN Peacekeepers, and perhaps most telling of all Hutus who fled Rwanda after committing genocide against the Tutsis their and who have taken up residence here in the Congo.

Some of the Hutus have become known as the Rastas, who wear shiny track suits and LA Lakers’ jerseys. They have become notorious for burning babies, kidnapping children and killing any and everyone who dares to get in their way.

There is one light of hope though in all the killing. At Panzi Hospital Dr Mukwege, an OB/GYN does six surgeries a day on women who have been raped. Most who come have fistulas – holes inside of their bodies. Many are the result of having had various implements – guns, bayonets, bottles, sticks – shoved inside of their vagina’s and rectums, literally ripping them apart from the insides. Others stem from birth complications. A mother who cannot give birth due to militias, who has no time for labor and whose child dies inside of her. One carried her dead child inside her vagina for a week before arriving at the hospital.

Because of their woods, they are unable to control their bodily fluids, and so their urine and feces literally leak out of their bodies. Many are shunned by their communities – and yet in some villages over half the women have been raped. Few are spared – Dr Mukwege says his oldest patient was 75, his youngest just 3.

Why is this occurring? That is the question, that no-one can answer, although it is clear the purpose of the attacks to terrify. Why else would women be raped in front of their families – husbands brothers, sisters, children, communities? By doing so they are raping not only the women but everyone around them as well. Showing them, proving to them, that they are powerless and helpless before such as them.

I’m still trying to figure out what I can do, what we can all do to help, to end the violence. Perhaps the best option is to write the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila Kabange, and urge him to take action to stop the violence. Write your representatives, and urge them to start proceedings to take action. Or you can donate money directly to Panzi Hospital where Dr Mukwege works, print out posters, and sign up for email alerts at http://www.vday.org/contents/drcongo.

But, perhaps most importantly, you can speak out to your family & friends. Tell them about the conflict, and keep it fresh in your mind. The perpetrators would prefer that we forget, that we pretend its not happening. But it is. And the least that we can do for those who are being hurt is to not forget them, and their struggle.

Africa’s Holocaust

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a civil war which supposedly ended over 5 years ago, goes on. Over six million people have been killed during the past six years. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of New Zealand – or New York City – dead. Its also the approximate number of Jew’s killed in the Holocaust, the first major genocide. Like every other genocide, it is being largely ignored. Half of all deaths are of children under the age of five – a quarter of all children born in the Congo today won’t make it to the age of 5.

The worst of the violence though, is being committed against women. Rape has become the weapon of choice of the Congolese military, as well as the “Mai Mai” militias, civilians, UN Peacekeepers, and perhaps most telling of all Hutus who fled Rwanda after committing genocide against the Tutsis their and who have taken up residence here in the Congo.

Some of the Hutus have become known as the Rastas, who wear shiny track suits and LA Lakers’ jerseys. They have become notorious for burning babies, kidnapping children and killing any and everyone who dares to get in their way.

There is one light of hope though in all the killing. At Panzi Hospital Dr Mukwege, an OB/GYN does six surgeries a day on women who have been raped. Most who come have fistulas – holes inside of their bodies. Many are the result of having had various implements – guns, bayonets, bottles, sticks – shoved inside of their vagina’s and rectums, literally ripping them apart from the insides. Others stem from birth complications. A mother who cannot give birth due to militias, who has no time for labor and whose child dies inside of her. One carried her dead child inside her vagina for a week before arriving at the hospital.

Because of their woods, they are unable to control their bodily fluids, and so their urine and feces literally leak out of their bodies. Many are shunned by their communities – and yet in some villages over half the women have been raped. Few are spared – Dr Mukwege says his oldest patient was 75, his youngest just 3.

Why is this occurring? That is the question, that no-one can answer, although it is clear the purpose of the attacks to terrify. Why else would women be raped in front of their families – husbands brothers, sisters, children, communities? By doing so they are raping not only the women but everyone around them as well. Showing them, proving to them, that they are powerless and helpless before such as them.

I’m still trying to figure out what I can do, what we can all do to help, to end the violence. Perhaps the best option is to write the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila Kabange, and urge him to take action to stop the violence. Write your representatives, and urge them to start proceedings to take action. Or you can donate money directly to Panzi Hospital where Dr Mukwege works, print out posters, and sign up for email alerts at  http://www.vday.org/contents/drcongo.

But, perhaps most importantly, you can speak out to your family & friends. Tell them about the conflict, and keep it fresh in your mind. The perpetrators would prefer that we forget, that we pretend  its not happening. But it is. And the least that we can do for those who are being hurt is to not forget them, and their struggle.

Climbing

Well, today we drove back up to Kendall Cliffs in Peninsula, OH and went rock climbing again. It was a lot of fun… we went, I have to admit, mostly because we forgot *all* ov my climbing stuff their last weekend.

Anyways though, it was a very fun time. Plus, Sue, Brad, Christian & his friend Micheal, Jenny & her boyfriend Tim all came too, so we got to see and climb with them, which was very cool. I managed to  climb one route that I hadn’t been able to finish last weekend, as well as a couple of others, so that was cool. I think the hardest one was probably around a 5.8, which isn’t too bad.

Our plan is, to drive down to The Mountain Institute’s Spruce Knob Mountain Center on monday morning and check it out. I really hope everything goes well and we like it. It *sounds* very cool, almost too good to be true in fact.  We’ll spend the night there, and then on tuesday drive down to Seneca Rocks and check it out, maybe climb a little and then drive back home. I really don’t know what time we’ll get back home, so I may very well not make it to tae kwon do on tuesday night… but thats OK. I’m just very excited to check this place out… the pictures of it are beautiful. And it would be super cool to get back to doing what we love, especially for Kevin after everything he’s been through this past year.

Climbing

Well, today we drove back up to Kendall Cliffs in Peninsula, OH and went rock climbing again. It was a lot of fun… we went, I have to admit, mostly because we forgot *all* ov my climbing stuff their last weekend.

Anyways though, it was a very fun time. Plus, Sue, Brad, Christian & his friend Micheal, Jenny & her boyfriend Tim all came too, so we got to see and climb with them, which was very cool. I managed to climb one route that I hadn’t been able to finish last weekend, as well as a couple of others, so that was cool. I think the hardest one was probably around a 5.8, which isn’t too bad.

Our plan is, to drive down to The Mountain Institute’s Spruce Knob Mountain Center on monday morning and check it out. I really hope everything goes well and we like it. It *sounds* very cool, almost too good to be true in fact. We’ll spend the night there, and then on tuesday drive down to Seneca Rocks and check it out, maybe climb a little and then drive back home. I really don’t know what time we’ll get back home, so I may very well not make it to tae kwon do on tuesday night… but thats OK. I’m just very excited to check this place out… the pictures of it are beautiful. And it would be super cool to get back to doing what we love, especially for Kevin after everything he’s been through this past year.

First Steps! W. Virginia?!

So, today Andros took his first steps! Pretty incredible. He’s getting so big, and so amazing. He’s learned how to climb onto the shelf infront of our windows now. Just has to have something to use as a stepping-stool, and up he goes.

I’m also totally shocked at our sudden change in fortune. I posted a little blurb about Kevin & I on Google’s “Outdoor Education Jobs” group the other day. And have so far gotten two responses. One from a couple of camps up in Massachuesets somewhere, the other from The Mountain Institue’s Spruce Knob Mountain Center.

The Mountain Institute sounds awesome. Theres no other way to say it. Up in the mountains of W. Virginia, just 25 miles from Seneca Rock. They’re surrounded on 3 sides by the Mongahala National Forest. During the spring & fall they mostly do environmental education with schools, but in the summer its much more of a mixed bag. So, in the spring/fall Kevin would be mostly doing EE stuff, and in the summer just random odd jobs (cooking, maintenance, trail maintenance, etc).

Thinking

Well, ok, try again. I just had a nice long well-thought out post and its gone now! Bah. Not a good start 😦 So, here goes, again!

I really wish I would have started writing last year about this time. So much has happend in the past year. I got married last august, my son was born in March, Kevin got in a motorcycle accident in June, and then his step-dad in a motorcycle accident in October (insane, I know). Our lives have changed so much, and I have basicly no record of it. It really makes me quite sad when I think about it. But, oh well. I suppose we all have regrets…

Kevin is basicly back to “normal” now, which is absolutely amazing. I was so worried for so long that I would never have him back… and he is now, mostly. His brain’s still not quite where it was pre-accident, but its getting better, getting closer every day. And, at least he realizes it now, somewhat. Which, wasn’t true just a couple months ago. Whether he’s actually getting better or just hiding it well (which implies that he IS in fact better, I suppose?), I’m not entirely sure. But, either way at least it seems like I can talk to him and hold a decent conversation.

Physically hes probably 90% back. He actually went and ran today for the first time He ran about 1.5 miles in just over 11 minutes! Which is just awesome, especially since its what he’ll have to run to pass the OPOT (Ohio Peace Officers Training), course in 8 months 😀 I really hope that it (the OPOT) goes well, and he ends up with a decent job doing something he likes. Even if we do have to move out and get our own place.

Andros is amazing. Theres no other way to say it. He’s gotten so big, so fast its pretty hard to believe that 9 months have already gone by. It seems like he was just learning to roll over yesterday. And, now he’s up crusing along the furniture, learning to stand unassisted, crawling around and opening cupboards and getting into just EVERYTHING!!

I’m trying to learn to cook more different things. Stir fry and pasta are good, but something different is always good, you know? So, I’ve been trying to make at least one or two new things every week. Its been pretty hit & miss, but lots of fun. I find that I’m making fewer and fewer things exactly as the recipe calls for them and modifying stuff more and more. Plus, now that I have deer and lamb to cook with its opened up a whole new area of cooking… I’m a huge fan of AllRecipes.com partially cause the recipes tend to be pretty good, and partially cause of the community’s super helpful reviews… I have so many cook books that just sit on the shelf though, its really pretty sad…. probably should ebay them (along with a bunch of other stuff).

I’m also thinking about going back to school, possibly for something with computers. Both my Dad and Kevin keep telling me I should, so maybe I will. I just have to figure out how I’m going to do it with Andros. Online classes would be nice, but some part of me doesn’t know how I’d really do with just online classes.

Anyhow, thats been our year in a nutshell.