Dear OFA Families and Friends,
The second annual Congo Week runs October 18-24, 2009 to raise awareness of the chain of relationships causing the longstanding violent conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As all of you know, wars in DRC have killed over 5.4 million people in the last decade, making it the deadliest conflict since WWII. It is a global embarrassment that most of these deaths were not caused by direct violence, but result from a lack of access to clean water and simple sanitation. Throughout eastern DRC, a confusing list of armed rebel groups vie for control of portions of the landscape. Each commit horrific atrocities against civilians in campaigns of terror. They gang-rape women, children, and men. They burn villages. They force children to kill their own parents, then enslave the children, using girls
for sex, and boys as soldiers and slave laborers.
Control of the region is the goal for these groups simply because it is profitable. Eastern Congo contains huge quantities of ores of precious metals: cassiterite (tin), columbite-tantalite (coltan), and others. In particular, coltan is used to make the tiny tantalum capacitors that go into electronic devices such as cellphones, laptop computers, video games and DVD players. “Artisanal miners”, enslaved by the rebel forces, dig raw ore from the earth by hand, and 150-lb. loads are smuggled by porters across poorly-guarded borders into the neighboring countries of Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. From there, materials are shipped to other countries for refinement, production and final assembly. Western and European mining companies claim they do not source coltan from Congo, but the ore changes hands so many times throughout the manufacturing process that it is impossible to identify the metal’s true origin. Final manufacturers have plausible deniability, but one statistical analysis concluded it was impossible for Sony to have manufactured all its Playstation units without using Congolese coltan. Ex-British Parliament Member Oona King observed, “Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms.”
Every time you upgrade your cellphone, every time you buy a new laptop, you contribute to the crisis in Congo. Congo Week (http://www.congoweek.com/) is an effort to raise global awareness of the African War and to bring daylight to its true causes. The Board of Our Family Adoptions supports the message and effort of Congo Week and encourages you and your families to participate. During this effort to raise awareness, however, we offer the Families and Friends of OFA a different challenge. Throughout Congo Week, turn off your DVDs and Playstations, but use your cellphones and computers as tools for education and for good. Here are some simple actions that can turn the power of these electronics to good:
- War, Murder, Rape… All For Your Cellphone. http://www.alternet.org/story/41477/
- Coltan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltan
- The War the World Ignores
- Put links to Congo Week on your blogs
- Write blog entries about coltan and mining in DRC
- Send emails to your friends and family
- Put a new line on your email address
- Forward this letter on to others in your inbox
- Don’t buy that new cellphone. Use the old one until it breaks.
- Recycle your old cellphone. Where? At your Zoo!
- Recycle all your old electronic devices.
- Write your senator to
support SB 891: the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009;
- Participate in Congo Week events in your community.
- Turn your cellphone off, but change your voicemail message to explain why.
All of our families have been enriched by the deeper understanding of love that arises out of adoption. All of our families are stronger because of the greater global
understanding that DRC adoption, diversity and multi-cultural issues have taught
to us. But with that love and strength comes the responsibility for each of us
to effect change in this world.
Our children will want to know what we did for DRC while the rest of the world stood by.
With Great Gratitude,
The Board of Our Family Adoptions
Haven will want to know what we did.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This is Congo Week--Spread the Word!
Below is a portion of the letter prepared by Our Family Adoptions to address Congo Week. Please read, visit the links, think about your personal connection to the issues that plague DRC. Even if you only know Haven through this blog, you know Haven. You know that his father possibly died in the violence in Goma. You know his mother was a victim of a preventable disease. You know that Haven lost his birth parents because of poverty and social injustice. You know about Congo. Now what are you going to do about it.