Exiled Voices for Justice

Next up, I tabled two films for Amnesty International for the local Exiled Voices for Justice film series.

Which_way_home

Which Way Home, which screened at UW two weeks ago Saturday, was about unaccompanied migrant children. While I was aware of the issue, I had no idea the number of children heading north from Central America and Mexico on their own, hopping trains.

Some of the children were as young as 9. While some of them had trouble with their step-fathers, they usually were close to their mothers at least, wanting to give them a better life. Sometimes the parents sent them, as the US police officer notes above. A grandmother and a child who came at 9 were interviewed, with their faces hidden as they aren’t legal. Even though the child almost died in the desert, it was worth it to give her a chance at a better life. It’s hard to get your mind around poverty so desperate.

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The panel included two young men who came here themselves as children, and had found foster homes. The Lutheran Community Services’ Refugee and Immigrant Children’s Program is an organization that helps them find homes locally and took part in the panel as well.

You can find more information on how to help at: http://www.refugeechildren.net/

Lumo

Lumo, that Sunday’s movie at Seattle University, is about a young woman who is a survivor of a brutal gang rape by soldiers in the Congo. Rape very much is a weapon of war in places like the Congo, with many women like Lumo suffering from fistulas, internal damage that causes urinary incontinence and infertility.

HEAL Africa set up and the hospital for survivors where Lumo and others are treated. Learn more at: http://www.healafrica.org/

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Jeanne Muliri Kabekatyo (Mama Muliri), from the hospital, was one of the speakers on the panel. She is the pioneer of HEAL My People, HEAL Africa’s gender-based violence program.

Another speaker was Wemba Koy-Okonda, who fled the first Congolese war in 1997, and was granted asylum in the US in 2002.  Wemba-Koy founded OKONGO, an organization that both teaches newly resettled Congolese refugees and asylees English and technical skills; and serves people in the Congo in promoting health through public awareness and food self-sufficiency, condemning sexual violence against women and girls, and asking people around the world to help end violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read more online at: http://www.okongo.org/

What’s fueling the war in the Congo? Mining. Mining for blood diamonds? No. Something closer to home to even more of us, maybe even especially those of us who are activists. . . 

I’ll give you a hint – Can you hear me now?

Most of us involved in human rights know to ask for that certificate that your engagement ring isn’t a blood diamond, but do we know what’s in our cell phone in our pocket or running our laptop?

Urge your US Representative to co-sponsor The Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128), introduced by Congressman Jim McDermott (or if you live in the Seattle area and he’s your rep, be sure to thank him).

Learn more and take action online at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/drc

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