grassroots action in the DRC
A DailyKos writer covers grassroots action to combat gender-based violence in the eastern Congo:
Mama Muliri responded to the threats by going to Lubutu herself and facing the tribal leaders eye to eye. As promised, they met her brandishing machetes and guns. They chanted threats, and they threw rocks at her. Still, she stood her ground, told them about the new constitution passed in 2006, and how the law now differed from the tribal customs. She demanded that they comply with the law, and asked them to attend a HEAL Africa conference on conflict transformation.I've met Mama Muliri; she is one of thousands of Congolese who work to find culturally-relevant, simple, inexpensive ways to combat the country's most pressing problems. To say that she is fearless would be an understatement. The international media rarely focuses on success stories like hers, but I'm convinced that it's this type of community-based action that will ultimately bring change to the region.
...Mama Muliri's act of defiance marked the beginning of a rich collaboration between HEAL Africa and the tribal leaders. They are now working together to create a new future for the Congo.
HEAL Africa and the ABA conducted three days of meetings where the tribal leaders were able to learn about the new DRC constitution and how traditional practices conflicted with the law. They worked together to address the conflicts near their villages, and worked on strategy to transform the regional conflict and protect their villages. The chiefs took to this process like fish to water, and saw what they'd learned as a better way for their communities. The chiefs collectively chose to enforce the new law, and they had a march through the city to proclaim it so.
The program in which Mama Muliri works has helped more than 30,000 women and girls get appropriate medical and psycho-social assistance after they were victimized, giving them the tools to rebuild their lives. As a result of underfunding of UNICEF by UN member states, HEAL Africa has suffered severe funding cuts this year. You can donate to support Mama Muliri's work here; I don't know a better way to directly support community-based efforts to help rape survivors in the eastern DRC.