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.


Can Crisis Secure the Right to Water?

What comes to mind when you think about water?

Perhaps a swim in the pool on a hot day, ice cubes in your favorite drink or the relaxation of a long, hot shower after a tough day at work.

Well what if you could have none of those things? What if water – and the necessity of its use – translated into stomach cramps …diarrhea …malnutrition …death?

For 884 million people a source of safe drinking water is unavailable, according to UNICEF, and for 2.5 billion people there is no access to clean sanitation.

Over 3 million people a year die as a result of water-borne diseases. In the time it took me to type that sentence, a child died from lack of clean water.

Continue reading Can Crisis Secure the Right to Water?

Consensus emerges at World Water Week

Discussions at the Stockholm World Water Week continue to reveal broad consensus on many water-related issues and the immediate need to address them. This guest post from attendee Alex McIntosh, provides valuable insights in the the thinking of thought leaders on water ….


Reporting real time on Day 4 of World Water Week:  Stockholm, Sweden (9/9/10)

 (posted by Alex McIntosh, founder, Ecomundi Ventures)

By Day Four of the 2,500-attendee conference, a few overarching themes have begun to emerge.  First, in the majority of the watersheds across the globe, we know too little about the amount of water available, the amount extracted in aggregate for human use, or the quality of the watershed.  For this reason, in the seminar On the Road the Corporate Water Reporting, panelists from Nature Conservancy, CERES, Quantis, PepsiCo, CH2M HILL, Unilever, Borealis and other organizations all agreed that the trend towards greater water reporting transparency would continue, primarily driven by businesses’ need to obtain and manage their supply chain water resources, and in response to consumer/customer/investor stakeholder pressure. 

Continue reading Consensus emerges at World Water Week

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 …

For the people of Pakistan


As per my own weird-little-norm-of-obsessive-news-following I have been tracking the floods in Pakistan for a couple of weeks. I quietly did my part, sending what I could to help affected families.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I decided to come out publicly and urge people to get involved.


Because according to numerous new reports, like this one from Canada’s Globe and Mail, two major reasons relief agencies are having such a hard time raising funds to help people in the affected areas are:

Not enough global media coverage.

Pakistan suffers from an image deficit.

Continue reading For the people of Pakistan

Bloody Shame


In a way it’s sort of galling to get a lesson in personal and civic responsibility from a nearly 3,000-year old vampire.

But when Russell Edgington — the heartbroken, blood-crazed vampire king of Mississippi — took to the airwaves on last night’s episode of True Blood to berate humans for thinking they are equal with vampires and deconstruct arguments that humans and vampires are alike, that’s exactly what happened.

And I quote:

I suppose, in a few small ways, we are. We’re narcissists. We care only about getting what we want no matter the cost … just like you.

Global warming, perpetual war, toxic waste, child labor, torture, genocide … that’s a small price to pay for your SUVs, and your flat screen TVs. Your designer jeans; Your absurd, garish McMansions! … futile symbols of permanence to quell your quivering spineless souls …


Ok, so let’s forget for a second this admonition was delivered by a being

that eats humans for dinner.

Let’s ignore the fact his diatribe was delivered while

holding a bloody portion of a human’s spine.

Let’s also skip over the really ewwww-y fact that the King spent much of last night’s episode crying over a ridiculously ornate punch bowl filled with the splattered remains of his dead mate.


The man (er … vampire) has a point …

Continue reading Bloody Shame

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