Present: Samba Halkose,Jean Miller, Mary Georges, Jackie Fletcher, Maman Jeanne, Pat Aron
The Democratic Republic of Congo Committee held a very productive, extended meeting on July 12, 2009. Samba provided an excellent PowerPoint presentation about her recent visit to the DRC (Women’s Voice for Peace, Unity, Justice, and Development). The presentation highlighted the important work of VICO (Village Cobay) in Bukavu and included her meetings with the women at the program and her visits to the Katana orphanage and to Panzi Hospital. The presentation was powerful and the group expressed interest in supporting VICO. One idea was that we raise funds for VICO by selling bags made by the women. Samba asked that we proofread her presentation and give her suggestions.
Maman Jeanne just returned from two conferences of Congolese people, one in Atlanta and one in Iowa. The Iowa group sent a letter to President Obama requesting a meeting. Maman Jeanne would like to meet with Michelle Obama and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Mary reported that the Independence Day March in Manchester was a success. She will show us a video of the march at our next meeting.
The group discussed the play Ruined. The Shalupe Foundation wants to bring the play to Boston but a theater needs to be identified. We will send suggestions of places to Maman Jeanne.
The group began to discuss how we can support each other. Maman Jeanne’s Shalupe Foundation has numerous projects in the DRC. Mary’s Victory Women is a women’s organization that is beginning to address Congolese issues. Samba’s goal is to bring all Congolese organizations together. WILPF is an organization of volunteers that addresses many peace and justice issues – it has recently begun its DRC work.
We discussed the desire to plan an event for Breaking the Silence/Congo Week II which will be October 18 – 24. The Shalupe Foundation will be doing events at MIT, Harvard, and Emmanuel College. Jackie wants to have a house party and may plan it for that week. She’d like to have VICO bags for sale at the house party. We may want to have a public event (such as a march or stand-out) during Congo Week – will need to contact the media.
Pat reported on her call to Robin Lloyd of Vermont WILPF which has an active DRC program. They have worked with the Vermont legislature and they held a conference for African women. They worked with the AFSC to send postcards to the Congo - Pat called the Cambridge and Vermont AFSC offices to request information.
Pat distributed copies of a letter she sent to her congressional representative supporting the Congo Conflict Minerals Map amendment to the FY2010 Defense Appropriation bill. We will contact our representatives and ask them to make sure the amendment isn’t removed from the bill. We also discussed distribution of the Congo Conflict Minerals Act letter to senators after our last meeting – the letter was sent to over 200 people asking them to contact their senators. Letters are a way to increase public awareness while attempting to affect public policy.
The next meeting of the group will be on Sunday, August 2, at 3:00 at Pat’s house in Jamaica Plain. Our agenda will include a report from Mary on the Manchester Independence Day march, planning a public event or house party for Congo Week II, discussion of the Enough hand-out, and follow-up on calls people have been making.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom