I've struggled with how to write about this, because it's so horrible, and this blog is a clean little crafty corner, where not much tragedy is discussed and not many bad things haunt these pages. But I've decided it's important and that I'm going to do this post. Especially since you've watched me learn to run faster, and you were all so generous in helping my running friend Cassie a while back. And the friendships I've made on my blog and by running are so unexpected and fine.
Back L to R: Erica (with Jackson), Melanie, Lena, me, Keri, Marci, Lori, Olivia (with Tati?); Middle sort of row L to R: Hau, Sarah; Front L to R: Cassie, Ann; Bottom right: Philly.
On June 23, I'm going to run a short (4-mile) version of Lisa Shannon's Run for Congo Women.
If you don't know what this is, the shortest story is that there are horrible atrocities being done to women in the Congo, where rape/torture are commonplace and children are made to participate and watch as their mothers are raped/tortured. Many of these women survive the ordeal but lose their communities and families either to death or because they are shunned once they have been raped. The world has largely ignored this.
One particularly gut-wrenching story is about a woman who was abducted by rebels along with her infant son. She was held for a year and raped every day. She kept her baby alive throughout this ordeal, and he spent the first year of his life seeing his mother suffer every day. She kept him alive. I am stunned and humbled by her strength. I am so angry and sad about what is happening to these women and families.
One American woman, Lisa Shannon, raised funds to sponsor several of these women as "sisters" by doing a 30-mile pretty grueling trail run in Portland's Forest Park several years ago. Today the Run for Congo Women is now being done in many locations around the country with many people running various distances all to raise funds to sponsor sisters in the Congo.
Once I read Lisa's journals about her trip to visit these women, I was both disgusted and determined. I watched an Oprah special on it and I knew I had to help somehow. If you are squeamish you may not want to watch the video (link below), though I hope you will watch it to get more information and get inspired to help.
I have about a month to train for this, though I have been running all year. I'm going to challenge myself to run on these trails, and perhaps run the whole way with no walks. My goal is to sponsor one woman for every mile I'm running, so to raise a total of $1,416 by June 23.
Of course, it would be better to blow this goal out of the water. In fact, I'll do better than eat my hat if we can raise a total of $3,186. That's enough to sponsor 9 women, and if we raise that much I will run the 9-mile version, even though I can't as of today actually do that. I promise I will if we do.
I'm going to ask Sarah, who is enormously pregnant and so won't be
running, to live blog the run for me. (Hi Sarah, want to live blog it?) So if you donate you can watch me
shuffle fly through the miles as we support these women together.
If you are interested, I hope you will support my run in one or more ways:
a. By sponsoring a sister online. The cost is $354 per year, payable as $27 a month plus a startup fee. If you do this, I will not know. So please let me know via an email at dumbmail (at) larissabrown (dot) net, and I will add your total to the running total on my sidebar.
b. If you prefer, you can donate any amount via my paypal account and I will make one lump donation with all of our dollars. (You won't be able to get a tax deduction this way; I will deduct the small fee that is charged by paypal and donate all the money remaining after that fee is paid).
There are Runs for Congo Women in many communities around the U.S., and they are listed here.
Let other people know about this--either my run or just the whole issue itself.
If you want to know more or give to the effort, here are all the links.
Watch the Oprah video (click on 20-minute DVD; you can watch as much as you want to and then click off).
Sponsor a sister online via Run for Congo Women (let me know by email if you do)
Donate any amount via my paypal account (no need to email me if you do it this way)
Learn about upcoming runs across the U.S.