Finding a Voice for the DRC


Congo Week: Day Three


Guest Post from:

Patricia Sula




This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – Congolese activist Patricia Sula talks about cross-generational hopes for positive change in the DRC. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.



“Never forget the blood running through you is Congolese. Nothing else.” This is something I heard my mother say a thousand times. Nowadays when she starts saying it, I just finish her sentence; “Yes, Mom I know I know I’m Congolese.”

I grew up in the United States but was born in the heart of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I don’t remember Congo but I’ve been there a thousand times. As a child I would spend hours at my father’s feet. For bedtime stories he told tales of the life he lived in the DRC. He told me how rich our culture was and how beautiful the land was, “A paradise on earth” he would say. As an adult today, I clearly see the sadness in my father’s eyes reflect in my own, but his patriotism is still there every time we discuss our native land, a land that has known a war since 1996.

Continue reading Finding a Voice for the DRC

Courage for Change in the DRC

Congo Week: Day Two

Guest Post from:

Miss Congo Unity




This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – Miss Congo Unity talks about courage and what inspires her to keep advocating for change in the DRC. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.



My name is Kapinga Marie-Christelle Tshinanga. I am Congolese-American. To be specific: Congolese, as in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…capital Kinshasa, not Brazzaville.

As a high-schooler, I was once asked which Congo I was from; I responded with a puzzled face. To help me, the inquirer threw in some multiple choices: “Kinshasa or Brazzaville?” and I replied quickly to hide the embarrassment: shouldn’t I have known there are two African countries dubbed “Congo”?

Continue reading Courage for Change in the DRC

Help Me Break the Silence


Congo Week: Day One




What do you think of when you think of the Democratic Republic of Congo?

What’s that you say?!? You don’t think of the Democratic Republic of Congo? Hardly surprising.

Let’s be honest. Most people would be hard pressed to say what a Democratic Republic of Congo is, much less spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Well, we should.

And yes, of course, I am going to tell you why ….

Because each and every one of us can play a role –

without even leaving our chairs –

to stop one of the most horrific conflicts in the world.


The Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, is a country in Africa ravaged by a conflict driven by competing forces’ desire for control of the country’s vast resources of copper, tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and cobalt. This conflict has been marked by some of the world’s most egregious cases of sexual violence perpetrated against civilian populations for the sole purpose of sowing fear and forcing submission. Armed combatants follow no acceptable rules of war – even the country’s army is regularly accused of participating in abusive practices and seeking control of funds generated by mining. Children and families are forced to work in inhumane conditions.  Death stalks the Congolese hour after hour, day after day, month after month ….

Like the “blood diamonds” of Sierra Leone, profits from the sale of DRC’s minerals are used to fund the conflict. Like the “blood diamonds” the appetite of global markets – via computers, cell phones and other electronics – is helping the trade.

This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the DRC and help end the violence.

So what can you do?




Keep reading. All this week, I will be featuring guest bloggers each with a unique voice and viewpoint on the DRC, the conflict, and what we can do to help stop it.

Spread the word. Help me break the silence by sharing the blog posts via Twitter, Facebook and any other way you like.

Get informed.  Learn about the DRC and our role in the ongoing conflict. Read things like this recent piece from actress Ashley Judd and the Enough Project’s Jon Prendergast on the DRC, minerals and cell phones.

Take action. Friends of the Congo, The Enough Project and others consistently champion efforts to improve the situation in the DRC that contain actions members of the public can take to get involved.


Work underway at World Water Week

The working sessions of the Stockholm World Water Week are underway … so what does this mean for you, me and everyone else around the globe? Read on to hear what our man on the scene has to say about new initiatives getting off the ground …



“Day 2 of World Water Week:  Stockholm, Sweden (9/6/10)”


(guest post by Alex McIntosh, founder, Ecomundi Ventures)


The luminaries of the water field took the podium today.  Dr. Rita Colwell of the US was recognized as the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize winner (equivalent to the Nobel Prize for water) for her groundbreaking work on cholera.  And Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environmental Program shared his agency’s Green Economy Initiative program focus–responding to one of the most pressing social needs today–on integrating water into the larger policy and market-based decisions made by officials at local, regional, national and global levels. 

Connecting the dots is important, as the science is often a few steps ahead of the social debate, and bad policy today will have profound implications for the 9 billion humans projected for earth in 2040–and for the corporations that depend on reliable water resources for their operations. 

Continue reading Work underway at World Water Week

Turning on the Tap …

This week – for the first time since the United Nations adopted a resolution affirming the fundamental human right to water and sanitation in July – representatives of governments, the private sector, NGOs and academia are gathered at a major international water event, the Stockholm World Water Week.

Ensuring access to clean water for everyone is one of the most critical challenges facing our global community. It is a complex goal, but one that must remain a core focus if we are to avoid severe shortages, social unrest and needless deaths in the decades to come.

(I know … you know what’s coming don’t you?)

All week long I’ll be featuring water-related content from myself and guest bloggers looking at topics such as the right to water and pollution in China, as well as a running blog-commentary from Alex McIntosh who is in Stockholm attending the event! (For more on Mr. McIntosh’s experience, click here.)

Continue reading Turning on the Tap …

Are you Blogivated?!?

“I have signed up to participate in the Clean Water Blogivation campaign. If my blog receives the most votes, I will win an opportunity to join Dr. Greg Allgood on a clean water expedition to Africa and a $15,000 donation to my favorite charity tackling water issues.”

Few days ago, Proctor & Gamble’s GIVE HEALTH program launched the Clean Water Blogivation campaign asking bloggers to post about water issues and their desire to foment change – and to then urge their friends and readers to vote for the entry. The post with the most votes wins $15,000 to donate to their water-related charity of choice.

EVERY TIME YOU VOTE,  (and you can vote EVERY day) P&G will donate

a day’s worth of clean drinking water to an individual in a developing country.


You can vote now, here:

(NOTE: Remember to click through boxes OR the verification email they send! I didn’t … so my own vote didn’t count the first time!)

Per the campaign’s rules, I am supposed to say why I am, or want to be, a Change Agent to help provide clean drinking water to people in developing countries.

Continue reading Are you Blogivated?!?

Raising a glass for a good cause

Ok, truth time.

The run-up to the BlogHer conference later this week in New York City, and all the pre-conference #dayjob meetings I have after coming off a 6 a.m. flight into JFK airport have got my brain a bit scattered.

Full disclosure? I’m so frazzled I freaked myself out earlier today when talking to #TBFF @AspiringMama when I got it in my head that I am leaving tomorrow.  It is actually @AspiringMama who is leaving tomorrow. With all the packing, the organizing, the regular day job tasks, house cleaning, vet visits, prescription filling and dead camera batteries, can you blame me?

What I find particularly amusing about my current state of mind is that while I am attending a major blogging conference where I have been named a Voices of the Year finalist no less, I am not really blogging this week! How’s that for irony? Or slacking? Or …. Well, you get the picture.

But I always post on Mondays so I didn’t want to leave you all with nothing to show for visiting my little blog. (… and, honestly, with 4 minutes left in the day on the U.S. East Coast I won’t make it … but Central and Pacific time zones can still read this on Monday so that counts. Right. Right?!? Yes, right.)

Continue reading Raising a glass for a good cause

North Korea LoveFest

For the second time in two months, my heart is with the North Korean football (soccer) team.

News reports say the team – which turned in a gutsy and sportsmanlike performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – and its coach have been publicly shamed in a 6-hour harangue by party officials and ministers. As the Telegraph wrote:

The players were subjected to a “grand debate” on July 2 because they failed in their “ideological struggle” to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.

The team’s coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The coach was punished for “betraying” Kim Jong-un – one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il’s sons and heir apparent.

Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

Sure North Korea went out in the first round.

Yes, they lost miserably to Portugal 7- 0.

And, yes, *sigh* it is hardly surprising

to hear the North Korean regime express displeasure.

But the truth is that the ruling cadres are just missing the point.

Continue reading North Korea LoveFest

The Real World Champions

The battle lines are drawn. Tension is running high. Passion is only slightly behind. The world is abuzz with the vuvuzela. We are on the verge of the first knock-outs of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

As football (soccer) fans around the world gear up to roar their chosen sides onto victory, there is one team people around the world should all be rooting for:

Stand Up United


This side, put together by the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization Amnesty International, features a roster of true heroes – individuals who see wrong in the world around them and choose to stand up and act.

Continue reading The Real World Champions

Tweeps exercise their rights! (and I learn a lesson)


I thought it was an easy question ….

And after ummmmm….like …(I’m 29 … I tell ya, 29!) 30 plus some odd years on this earth you would think that I’d know better.

Every day for going on 15 years I have spent hours focused on a constantly (r)evolving variety of human and environmental rights issues as part of my “day job.” This tends to put me in regular contact with academics, government officials, activists, specialists and others equally (and often more) focused on the issue at hand.

Most often the issues I am writing about are near and dear to my heart on a personal level as well (hence, my propensity to suddenly ejaculate massive amounts of passionate information on subjects that have little to do with the actual conversation I am having at the time). Many of my live and virtual friends find this endlessly interesting and a bit odd. As a result, I tend to attract a lot of questions and requests for explanation on issues.

That started me thinking (yes, yes, I know … that’s always a dangerous undertaking):

What does the average person know about human and environmental rights? What are the issues they think about? And then, finally, what are the issues that your average person passionately believes everyone else should also be aware of?

Continue reading Tweeps exercise their rights! (and I learn a lesson)