“With great privilege comes great responsibility.”
Look at her radiant smile. It’s perfect. Just perfect. You hardly notice her uncombed hair, dust stained cheeks, fading blue t-shirt and the block of hard dirt she proudly stands in front of.
Her smile is the type of smile that is pure. The type of smile every child, every person in the world should own. One in which unparalleled happiness radiates so deep within, the very core of her being glows.
A single smile like this I reckon would make the entire world reciprocate her smile.
Until recently my knowledge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, was limited to only the name of its capital, Kinshasa. It took an article on The Guardian on a recent volcanic eruption to fuel my interest on this Central African country.
The more I read about the Congo, the more obsessed I became. Each news article seemed too obscene to be true. Fictitious in fact. It was hard to register that a country blessed with an almost infinite amount of natural resources is ironically one of the poorest nations in the world.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the epicenter of what is known as Africa’s World War. Social unrest, political anarchy and unprecedented corruption are so imbued in the DR Congo that it has left a country with endless possibilities in ruins.
This ongoing war, according to the BBC, has claimed the lives of “three million, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition.” Even more frightening, “In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, every hour in the day some 48 women are raped. That is around 1,100 rapes a day, leaving many thousands of women and children with broken lives and little hope for their futures (Aljazerra, 2011).”
A gripping United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) documentary “Women in the Frontline: Democratic Republic of Congo” delved further into this horrifying crisis informing us that girls as young as one to women as old as eighty suffer through this heinous ordeal.
What these women and young girls have to experience in addition to living in abject poverty on a daily basis is unforgivable! No woman, no child should have endure such horrible pain.
It is our moral responsibility as those born into privilege to help those who cannot help themselves.
Ghanian scholar, Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey once said, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.”
When I look back on my life and all the opportunities I have been afforded, it has been primarily because of the women in life. My grandmothers, who have suffered through many trials and countless tribulations always ensured that their families always had a meal to eat, however humble it was, water to drink, even if it was from a tap on the side of a road, clothes on their backs and a shelter above their heads. But, they have always ensured that their children received the education they were not fortunate enough to have received.
Looking at the little girl above and her beautiful smile, I cannot help but return the smile.
I am one individual, a young man, sitting behind an old computer typing this knowing with the greatest conviction that I can make a difference. I have always been taught that if you make a positive impact on the life of one individual you have done a significant amount in making the world a better place.
Today and everyday, I will make the world a better place and I will try my best to not let the women in the DR Congo and those nameless faces dotted throughout the world suffer. I will try my best to ensure they all keep smiling.
Jenson recommends: A better world begins with us. Donating money, sponsoring a child or simply spreading the word about the rape plight pervading the Democratic Republic of Congo can make an immense difference.
You can help by:
1. Sponsoring a girl:
World Vision (US citizens only, I believe).
2. Charities who work with communities in the DR Congo
Oxfam: A global movement of people working with others to overcome poverty and suffering.
*Side note: I will post more information on sponsoring soon.