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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 #10 - Mitochondrial Eve

Mitochondria is an endosymbiont organelle within the cell and is passed down via the female genetic code.  Almost all people on Earth, except for the "bushman," can be linked back to one original woman from eastern Africa, and she has been dubbed "Mitochondrial Eve."  (I did not go to Wikipedia; I'm traveling with people so much smarter than me.  Thank you Brock for this one!)
It is my next-to-last day in the Congo.  It's the 13th of February, and we will soon load back into our cars and head to dinner with the Governor of South Kivu tonight at his home.  Somewhat akin to dining with the Governor of California, I suppose.
I could not tell you at this point what day has been the best, because as we drove back this afternoon from a visit at Panzi Hospital and an unforgettable meeting with Dr. Mukwege, my dear friend Wendy said what she has said every day in the car on the way back to the Orchid: "What a day!"  Today I just laughed and said, "You say that everyday."  But today was full of those moments no one in the room will ever forget....  But first things first.
Today will be a quick stop to buy Congolese fabrics (I’m coming back with plenty; it was the first real shopping moment of this trip, and I can say this whole group can power through a market in 15 minutes and walk out with arms full.)  Next stop is City of Joy.  As soon as we arrived I went to the nurses’ office and the door was locked.  Luckily, I know which home is Georgette's, and I found her soon upon arrival.  She is feeling better and indeed on the mend.  Her suffering headache was gone and she barely felt warm.  She is still very tired but sat up in her bed.  We were so happy to see each other.  I was joined by a group of the women traveling with me, and we had a delightful visit with her.  The collective relief we all felt to see her better.  I handed her a big bag of Malarone, so she will have it when she needs more; she'll have to take it for at least ten more days.  My heart is light.
We are briefly at City of Joy, as Dr. Mukwege has asked to see us at 1pm.  It was a long drive again today to City of Joy due to roadwork in preparation for One Billion Rising tomorrow.  You wouldn't believe the roads we have been on in place of Essence Road.  I think I said yesterday that the roads are like a professional mountain bike course.  Wrong.  No one in their right mind would try a bike on these roads.  It's truly funny.  You literally have to lean from one side to the other while holding on to stay up right.  I don't know if it is the world erupting, here and now, or what, but I long for the better-graded dirt of Essence.
We arrive at Panzi and all our cars pass through the tall gates.  Once out of the cars, we follow Eve and Christine and immediately are greeted by Dr. Mukwege.  We have brought about 4,000 lbs. of medical supplies that came from a combination of donors:  Americares, the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser, UCSF, and MedShare.  I have never seen an institution so grateful.  We are ushered to a modest meeting room, concrete floors and windows on one side.  It is lined with folding chairs, and about 28 of us file in and take a seat.  At the front of the room is a table with three chairs, and Christine, Eve and Dr. Mukwege speak with us once assembled.
Eve opens by telling the story of how she came to the Congo.  It was back in 2007, when Dr. Mukwege was addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, and Eve was asked to interview him.  His story is SO amazing that she was instantly taken.  Or as she tells it, she had spoiled on men until she met Dr. Mukwege and he completely changed her view.  Here was a man whose entire life has been dedicated to saving the lives of women in one of the worst places in the world for women.  After the New York interview, he invited her to come to Panzi Hospital, a hospital he founded in his hometown of Bukavu, DRC.  So she came.  And here she met Christine, and when she went to Panzi, Dr. Mukwege tells us that she would hug women who had fistula and she would sit with them in the hospital room and listen to their stories and not leave until they had finished.  She would hold them close, and those who couldn't walk she would put on her lap.  He was so worried that she would contract something from the conditions, and she just didn't care.  He thought she was crazy.  And if she is, so are the rest of us.  But he couldn't believe how Eve would sit through every woman's story and the love she held for each one.
As she tells it, that trip broke her.  It cracked her into pieces.  She knew she would never be the same.  She would have to do something and that something turned into the City of Joy.
Dr. Mukwege tells of how he became a doctor here to help women give birth.  That is what he thought his life would be.  But in 1998 a woman came from 300 km away, and she was ripped apart through her midsection, her vagina torn.  Bullets had been discharged in her.  It was a horror he thought he would never see....  And then he began to see it over and over and the cases got worse and worse.  It was beyond anyone's comprehension.  And this was the beginnings of Panzi Hospital, a hospital treating some of the worst violence in the world on a horrific scale in a war-torn country with complex problems.  Panzi, like the City of Joy, rises out of the mud, not a five-minute drive from one another.
When Eve finished, she credited Dr. Mukwege for being the person that has made all we have seen at City of Joy possible.  If it weren't for that interview and how extraordinary a human being he is....  He was standing next to her as she was saying all this, and then his head fell forward and the tears began.  He is the humblest of men, and a hero, like Eve and Christine, who has made an enormous difference here for thousands.  I can't even remember the number of women they have treated since 1998, but it is in the tens of thousands.  He then spoke and turned to Christine, whose leadership at City of Joy and the tireless woman she is has made the City of Joy successful.  She received a standing ovation from the room.  She really is the mother of this movement here.  And Eve thanked both Christine and Dr. Mukwege for living here, for staying here - Dr. Mukwege returning after an assassination attempt on his life only a couple of months ago.  They exist to make the world better.  I don't think our group has ever shed so many tears.  Moving.  Powerful.  Positive.  This small group of people that think they can change the world.  Indeed, that is the only way it has ever happened, said Margaret Mead.
Eve then shared with us some huge news today.  The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, sent out the most powerful statement he has made in his tenure as head of the UN.  He called for all UN staff in every country around the world to join for the first time a civil protest to act to end violence against women and to all walk out of their offices at 12:30 pm on February 14th as part of One Billion Rising.  It is an unprecedented act by the UN and a tremendous endorsement of the dire need to end the greatest problem facing the planet.  We are all speechless.  It takes our breath away.
I have much more to write about Panzi, but I want to get this out to you today with one last story.  After we filed into our cars and started our slow bumpy ride back to the Orchid, we passed through the heart of Bukavu, a city of a million people, and I swear they are all out on the streets....  All of a sudden, we hear a lot of honking, and as we look out at the road a caravan of hundreds of motorbikes (popular transit here) are passing us, all being driven by men wearing V-Day OBR tee shirts in bright yellow and fuchsia.  They are all holding up their index finger to the sky in honor of the women and One Billion Rising.  It's a sight.  It takes them several minutes to pass our cars, heading in the opposite direction.  Speechless.  Chills.  We have our windows down and it's a sea of people and everyone has either the two-finger V for V-Day or their index finger pointing to the sky.  We can hear OBR news blaring on speakers.  Wendy is in the car with Frannie and me and says, “I have never been part of a political movement, but I am now! “
The world is Rising from Mitochondrial Eve.

2013 #9 - Photos from City of Joy

Two photos of Georgette, and Amy's friend Mary Ruth w/ Cynthia

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2013 #8 - Amy's Valentine Post


This is my valentine to every man I know.  You are many as there is such an abundance of truly great men in this world, most in fact.  But we have to do more, and we have to make sure that every woman and everyone is treated with dignity, respect and love.  I hope you will watch my valentine, only two minutes.  Even more so I hope you will spread it out so it moves like a tsunami on Valentine's Day.

This is my valentine to every woman in my life, because you deserve to never have to fear violence and abuse.  I hope you will join with me in standing for those who are suffering and RISE with all those you love.


....May the resonance of that love translate into loving women and all living things....

Amy

2013 #7 - Emails to Eve

Eve and I spent a few minutes today at her office at the City of Joy.  She was trying to read me the emails that are flooding her inbox.  She was crying so hard she couldn't read them out loud, so we put the screen between us and both read.  Not only could we not read them out loud because we were crying so hard, we could hardly read at all BECAUSE we were crying so hard.  So I started clicking “forward” to me, so that I might share a few.  She has thousands upon thousands....  The rising means something different to each of us, and it is vitally important to us all.  But what matters most is that we stand up to stop the violence, and we take this very simple action and rise in solidarity with women and girls all over the world.

One Billion Rising

Enjoy with my love--

Amy

A photo coming from women of all ages Rising in the Andes
















From: Shirley Owen <dsowen2@bigpond.com>
Reply-To: Shirley Owen <dsowen2@bigpond.com>
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 11:54 PM
Subject: congratulations

Dear Eve, I applaud what you are doing to bring about the abolition of Violence against women and I will be dancing (albeit on my own unfortunately, being 83 yrs young, looking after my husband who has regrettably AD, but was the ideal soulmate throughout our59 years of marriage) on Feb. 14th. I pray that this earth shattering event will hopefully reflect the spirit of defiance and survival that was so uplifting and energising to watch on the video, and bring a change in attitude to violence against women globally. You truly are a woman of great courage and a prophet of our time. Sincerely Shirley Owen, Australia.


And from Celeste in Fummerton, British Colombia, Canada

First Name: Celeste
Last Name: Fummerton
Country: Canada

Dear Eve,
    I live in Kamloops BC, Canada, and we are planning to dance in the parking lot of the little mall where I work.  At first it was just going to be me and a few co-workers dancing out there, but now it seems that there may well be up to 200 women turning out!  I would just like a chance to get a message of thanks to Tena Clark and all involved in writng and producing such a powerful, awe-inspring song for this wonderful event.  I've listened to it many time,
learning the dance steps, and every time I get a shiver.  So thank you to all invovled for this fantastic, empowering song, that we will joyously be dancing to on Valentine's day.

Sincerely,
Celeste Fummerton

2013 #6 - Georgette


Tuesday morning started with an extra long drive to the City of Joy.  It took me about 20 minutes to realize that we were going a different route, and unfortunately had no one to inquire the reason.  Our drivers speak Swahili and, if we are lucky, French.  We always change up whom we ride with, as it's a great mix of people.  Sometimes we are without any French-speaking passengers.  I keep telling myself I should learn French, but my hearing is so bad I would be a disgrace to the beautiful language it is.  So we sat back and took in the new scenery.

It was particularly bumpy and slow, like what I would imagine a competitive mountain bike course would be.  Except we have no helmets in the car.  So again you sort of hang your arms from the handles above and beside the windows and don’t take your gaze off the life along the road.  We saw a funeral procession today as we drove the new route.  It must be how most people in the world are laid to rest.  It was a simple wooden stretcher with a thin worn sheet covering.  You could make out that it was an adult of little weight.  Four men carried the stretcher with ease, and three people walked in front, one carrying a modest but beautiful handful of wildflowers in white and pale yellow.  No line or mourners behind, just the seven I could count.

After about an hour and a half we finally pulled into the City of Joy.  Today wasn't the usual greeting, as all 90 students are back in classrooms and we are here to observe.  I haven't ever been to City of Joy when classes were in session, so this was a wonderful time.  Christine divided us into three groups.  One went to watch beading class, which takes place outside in the sun, much easier to thread those very tiny beads.  I observed a math class in one room and a justice class being taught in another.  I think City of Joy is a class of girls all of whom want to sit in the front row.  We rotated through each.  The girls were proud to show us how much they have learned, and my they have great penmanship - must be because they don't grow up typing.

Yesterday, when I was at the farm I found my friend from the lunch on Saturday.  Her real name is Georgette.  The 30-year-old girl that I gave the name “Muree.”  I decided it was okay to use her real name, and somehow it doesn't feel right to use anything else.  On the farm after the hike I went looking for Georgette, as I had not seen her before the hike.  I finally spotted her sitting on the ground with her head lowered.  She had a couple of staff sitting near her and several of the girls.  I got down on the ground and looked at her face and asked her if she was ok?  She said, "I am suffering."  And she took her two hands and put them on her forehead.  So I went to my bag and came back with a big bottle of Advil (a travel must).  I asked if she wanted two and she said yes.  I then offered her a third (I am always over-medicating) and she shook her head and said "no, two is good."  I then handed the bottle to the staff who were with her.  They thanked me and then gave the bottle to Georgette to put in her pocket.  I knew she could have it, but wasn't sure if I should be handing out bottles of medicine.

Today when we arrive at the City of Joy I look for Georgette in every room.  I don't see her.  So I ask a group of about 15 girls beading if they know "where is Georgette?"  And almost in unison they reply, "Georgette is suffering."  So I walk towards the nine houses where the girls all live, ten to a house, and I see a student coming toward me.  I ask her, "Georgette?"  And she takes me to her house and we tap on the door and go in, but the beds are empty.  We go back out and a staff member who knows I am trying to find Georgette comes for me.  She tells me Georgette is in with the nurse and to come with her.

We wander quietly through the reception of the nurses’ office and then tap on the interior door.  A voice responds and inside we go.  Inside is a nurse sitting at a desk and a single bed against the wall.  Lying on the bed, suffering, is Georgette.  She has an IV in her arm, and when I sit down next to her and put my hand on her head it is so hot.  I take her hand with the IV and just gently slide my hand underneath it, and with my other hand I stroke her head.  I ask her how she feels.  She just shakes her head.  I don't know when I started to cry, but I did and couldn't hold back my emotions.  I only wanted to give her comfort, and hopefully it gave her a laugh that I had to pull my tee shirt up to my face to soak the tears.  You will never find a tissue here unless you have it in your purse.  And she speaks in her beautifully newly-learned English, "Don't cry.  I am not dead yet.  I am here.  Don't cry."  And she is right.  And I try very hard to stop the tears.

My friend Marsha came in and saw what was happening and went out to the cars and brought in her iPod and Jawbone and put us in a place of beautiful music.  (We all want Marsha's playlist - it somehow always plays the right music for the moment.)  I had pulled out my iPhone to show Georgette photos of my children.  I first showed her some pretty pictures of flowers floating in a bowl of water and some photos of fruits from my garden.  She smiled.  She has the most beautiful smile, elegant and perfect and it lightens the room.  I then found a picture of me with Ahna and said this is my daughter.  Before I could stroke my finger to the next photo I asked her if she had any children, any babies?  She held up three fingers.  I asked her how many years old?  She said, "all dead."  I put my phone down and we listened to music.  And my tears began to come and so did Georgette's.

Christine came in shortly thereafter and spoke to the nurse.  The test for malaria had been administered and come back positive as I was sitting with her.  I asked if they had any Malarone and Christine said no.  I went out and found our group knowing someone had their Malarone on them.  Thank you Belinda for your ten pills.  One was given to Georgette immediately and she will soon feel better, although with her HIV it is always serious when she is sick.  I stayed with Georgette until we had to leave.  We will collect all the spare Malarone from our group and take it with us tomorrow.  I offered Belinda to give her ten from mine back at the hotel, as I don't usually take it and bring it only to leave behind with everything else.  Belinda is selfless to the core and simply replied, "I don't need if it will save someone's life."

There is so much good in the people of the DRC.  That is the reason we come.  We come and we learn about what is important in life.  How important it is to take care of another and the answers to the most serious problems can be solved through dialogue and love.

Tuesday is not over.   We had an incredibly rich afternoon and I will let you know now that I spent many tears through the afternoon, but that story must come tomorrow as it is midnight here.  I just felt I needed to share Georgette with you.  Her story of her life in another post.  I hope you will think of her and hold her in your thoughts so she might feel much better soon.  I will also try to post a beautiful photo of her tomorrow.

Lastly, I am getting so many lovely notes from so many people, and it just gives me energy and more to give when I’m here.  Thank you for that.  I'm not ignoring anyone in not replying; I'm just saving my keyboard time to try to share with you these stories.

The RISING is getting closer, and I hope that you will all find it in your hearts to RISE on the 14th.  I think a man joining in a Rising means so much more than a dozen roses.  They are happening everywhere.  Please go to the Vday.org website and click on One Billion Rising.  You need only enter your zip code to find your options.  There is no doubt that what is about to happen on the 14th is unprecedented and will be the most attended global event of all time.  For the women and girls of the Congo, please RISE with me.  And for my dear Georgette, who exudes such dignity, I will RISE.

2013 #5 – City of Joy’s Farm; Meeting with Jason Stearns


We spent the day at the farm.  

Last year when we visited the City of Joy, Eve and Christine took us to see a farm about 30 minutes by car from Bukavu.  The hope was that the farm, which is just a tad larger than Central Park, could by purchased as a gift to City of Joy and then provide the land to grow enough food to sustain not only roughly 3,000 women on the farm, but also feed City of Joy and still produce enough food to sell and cover all of City of Joy's operating costs.  It is the secret to make City of Joy a self-sustaining model.  It will take time, but it will get there.  We bought the farm.

Today we visited the farm.  Our caravan started out at 10am.  Although that sounds late, I can assure you that most of us are in the lobby/restaurant area by about 7am.  That’s where the internet works best, and I think we all wake up here craving hot coffee and tea.  The rooms are best described as just the essentials.  So no room service, no refrigerator, the bar of soap provided is almost as thin as a playing card.  I did try to bring extra of everything, anticipating that folks might think their rooms would be outfitted like a basic Motel 6.  Yes, I even brought an extra hair dryer.  I’m happy to report that it is in full use in another room, and I’m sharing the one I have left with my friend Emily next door.  So if you want anything, you best head up to the lobby, and most do, early.  The walk up the path in the early morning light is my favorite of the day.

To get to the farm we drive through the city on Essence Road.  Once we reach the City of Joy, there is a fork in the road, and this time we go to the right and start a slow bumpy climb.  Essence Road was alive and buzzing this morning.  It never ceases to amaze me - women with loads and loads on their backs.  I swear they carry everything that gets moved in this country.

It took about an hour from our hotel, and as we reach the final stretch of the drive, the surroundings are lush green jungle.  It is a place where we can take photos, so everyone has their windows down and it's a sea of cameras clicking.  Fields of banana trees so tall that I have no idea how they harvest.  Lush green jungle.  As our car climbs around the side of the mountain, there they are - women walking along the roadside with 100 lb. bags of onions, potatoes, soybeans (still in the pods and on the stems) and everything else that can feed a family.  As we approach the farm we begin to hear singing.  Christine has brought all 90 of the City of Joy students up to the farm to be with us for the day.  One never tires of joyful voices serenading you for a warm welcome.  Oh their singing is incredible.  You can't wait to jump out of the car and join them.  We have now come to the point that as soon as we are together, we mimic their dances in large circles, in conga lines, any way we can fit in and join.  We sing along with them, just mimicking their sounds, as the songs are in Swahili or French.  But still we sing.  I don't know who is having a better time.

Once the music stopped, we were off for a hike on the farm, starting at the main house then down a long, windy, and very slippery, muddy road to the tilapia ponds.   The farm, although still in a rough plan, is bountiful with produce.  Two tons of beans were harvested last week.  Buckets of carrots and onions.  A huge field of corn to our left.  Nothing but possibility and promise in every direction as far as the eye can see.  We spent about three hours walking the farm.  It was quite a challenge at times due to the recent rains, and it wasn't hard to notice the difference in dexterity of the students compared to our "used to walking on graded dirt paths."  The girls passed us in no time and waited for us at the tilapia farms, greeting us again with song.  There is so much water on this farm, with a river running through it and fish ponds surrounded by rice paddies - so lots of places to put your foot down and have your entire shoe disappear in the soft mud.  Thank goodness those girls keep reaching out to hold our arms or take our hands.  Sisters looking out for sisters and making darn sure none of us slip into the ditch.

The whole farm experience was just over the top.  Once we reached the tilapia farms, the sky opened up and down came the rains.  We had just reached the ponds, and fortunately there were two open structures with corrugated aluminum roofs that we could stand under.  The perfect shelter.  Just the essentials.  I think we spent a good hour singing and dancing under the structures, open on all sides and seeing a sea of lush green in all directions, while the rain poured down like a good strong shower.

Once the rain stopped, we did our same hike in return back to the farmhouse.  Awaiting us was a picnic lunch of bread, cheese and roasted peanuts and a dessert of bananas and avocados.  Sweet sugar desserts are pretty much unheard of here - a cookie would make one curious.  The farmhouse is a big square one-story white stucco home that looks like it belongs on an African plantation.  Fitting.  It has a broad porch on the front and a huge yard of mowed green grass out front about the size of a riding ring.  We enjoy our lunch here.  All the furniture - sofas, chairs, you name it - have been moved out into the yard so we can sit on the ground or rest our backs on cushions to rest and eat.  We have barely finished eating and in the direction of Bukavu the sky begins to darken.  It takes a little time to get all of us in the vehicles, and as the last few of us load huge drops begin to fall.  The drive back is VERY slow, with water gushing down the sides of the road (which is nothing more than red soil).  The potholes fill with water and we slip and slide, all of us holding on inside the Land Cruisers.

The ride home took about 90 minutes, and the life going on was particularly moving.  In those heavy rains the women are still carrying the huge loads on their backs, barefoot, probably with miles to go.  You want to stop and pick them all up, but it isn't possible.  Once back on Essence Road the water is gushing, but life goes on even busier than usual.  Everything is still for sale, freshly butchered bloody meats on the ground on plastic sheets, piles of tomatoes, dried fish (not so dry anymore), and everything necessary for the evening meal - usually the ONLY meal as Congolese generally eat only once a day or once every other day.  The women are still wrapped in bright Congolese fabric sarongs, only now they are heavy from the rains.  This is the least of their struggles.

We arrive at the Orchid at 5:30, and Jason Stearns, our guest for dinner, is waiting for us in the hotel bar.  We race off for quick showers, as our feet and legs are caked with mud from the farm, and a hot shower, although brief, is good medicine.  We are all tired but there isn't a point where you would choose rest over the programming.  And Jason Stearns is no guest to miss.

I first learned about Jason a couple of years ago, while flipping through the NYT book review and seeing that Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost, the definitive book on the history of the DRC, had reviewed a new book on the Congo.  The book, Dancing in The Glory Of Monsters, is by an author unknown to me, Jason Stearns.  Adam gives the book a rave review and calls it the definitive book on the DRC from 1960 to current day, with particular emphasis on the war and the past 15 years.  I read the book.  I gave the book to everyone I know who cares about the DRC.

Jason delivered a home run at dinner.  I can't honestly tell you what day is better than the other.  Each day is so intellectually stimulating, and I wish I were recording every conversation.

Jason starts by asking us to look at the DRC’s problems with the DRC on three different levels:  Internationally, Nationally, and Locally.  Internationally, you have a huge mineral trade and you have all the surrounding countries wanting to come in and pillage as much as possible, which has led to years of countless militias from so many African countries wreaking so much havoc here.  Nationally, you have a government that is so weak, demonstrated through the institutional rot that permits corruption and lack of order and regulation.  Locally, you have over 450 ethnic groups that inhabit the DRC.  All want to have power, and power is gained through the endless bribes and favors that feed corruption at the lowest levels of society.  There are honest people here, lots of them.  But to be popular, to get elected to lead you must be liked by many, and often that comes at the cost of favors and bribes.  Corruption seeps in.

What we learn from Jason is that you need grass roots and grass tops.  You need people working at the highest levels, as HRW does - and Jason stops to comment that he holds HRW and the researchers in the highest regard for their commitment to exposing the truth and putting that evidence in front of those in the highest halls of power and pulling on the levers to make this country better.  And he adds that you also need folks working at the grass roots.  In his young life (I think he is about 33), he has spent years working at the grass roots level in the DRC.

He tells a story of when he was working with the UN here in the DRC a few years ago.  He learned of a rape of a girl in a village that the UN was protecting.  The perpetrator was a member of a militia group.  He went to the leader of the militia and said he wanted something done.  The general told him, "I agree with you Jason.  You can decide what’s to be done.  I can kill him.  I am happy to shoot him right now.  I can arrest him and put him in jail but I can tell you he will be out in a couple months because our prison system isn't effective.  I can ask him to pay a dowry because the girl is now worthless to her family as no one wants to marry a girl that has been raped.  So he can pay with a goat and some money."  Unknown to Jason, the father of the girl is standing there and the girl who was raped is the seven-year-old who is sitting off to the side with a couple of soldiers.  The father chimes in immediately and says, "Give me the goat."   I don't think this story will ever leave Jason, nor will it leave the rest of us.  These are the atrocities we need to stop.

I don't think I mentioned earlier but I traveled to the DRC this time around via Istanbul, Turkey.  I had spent five days there at a Human Rights Watch board meeting.  Unbeknownst to me, Turkey is a very repressive country - more journalists are currently in jail in Turkey than in any other country in the world; there is NO free press.  Two of the most repressed groups are women and the LGBT community.  In Turkey, progress for women is defined as a husband killing his wife because he doesn't like something she does - as simple as how she dresses - and now it might merit a brief note in the paper. That is progress for women.  It was shocking to me.  Women face great abuse in Turkey.  Murder, disappearances, and torture are especially rampant within the Kurdish community, which is one-third of Turkey’s population (25 million of the 75 million living there).  The Turks would love nothing more than to wipe out the entire community of Kurdish people.  Human Rights Watch has documented thousands of murders and disappearances there, and mothers are still holding the photographs of their children and family members every day, wondering if justice will ever come.  Will anyone ever be held to account?  Will there ever be an acknowledgment that the disappearance and murder of the child was wrong?  It is heartbreaking.  Women's rights groups face huge obstacles.

When I board the plane to meet the rest of my group in London, my head and heart were full of everything I had learned in those few full days and everything I had felt.  Mostly, how incredibly lucky I was to be born in a country where women have come so far.  But we have to care about our sisters everywhere - in Turkey, in the DRC, in Egypt, in Afghanistan, in the Philippines....  Everywhere - there is room in our hearts for all of them.  I understand more with every day why Eve pushed for One Billion Rising.  The violence against women and girls has to stop.  It will take a global awakening and an evolution of how the entire world values women to change the trajectory.  If we are to have hope for humanity, we have to honor the women, and we have to take all the men out with us when we RISE.

Livestream of One Billion Rising (OBR) - Feb. 14, 2013

email from Amy's friend Pat Mitchell:

Eve and I just got this preview of how OBR will be experienced online. Live RISINGS from more than 200! countries and yes, one billion (maybe more) people dancing can be seen on OBR web site (link below) throughout the 24 hours, starting with the first on 14th.  Phenomenal global movement that we are so fortunate to support!!

http://onebillionrising.org/livestream

Wherever you RISE and DANCE,  we are joined by VDAY's commitment to end violence and love.

Pat