My Visit to the White House to Deliver the Petition on Behalf of Mama Shujaa (Hero Women of Congo)
It was really unexpected that I ended up going to the White House on Tuesday in order to present a petition from the Hero Women of Congo. I have been involved advocating for social justice through student organization, as well as other non-profit organizations in the area, but I never expected I would be asked to advocate for women and peace in Congo all the way to the White House. On Monday night, I received a call from Neema Namadamu; a heroic woman who started this petition, asking me to represent the petition on her behalf to the White House's National Security Council the next day. You can imagine how astonished I was; I mean, who gets such invitation in a short amount of time? At the White House, I spoke to Anna Cave and Grant Harris, who are Obama's top African advisors.
The petition was signed by over 100,000 people, including the President of Liberia, asking Obama to send a Presidential Envoy to help stop the violence in Eastern Congo and to make sure that women are represented in the peace process. I am a refugee from D.R. Congo, so I also shared my experience about Congo especially as a young woman and violence that my family and I endure before resettling in Rochester, NY in 2007. I share with Anna Cave and Grant Harris how deep the violence and war affects women in Congo in everyday life. For example, I lost my younger and cousin at 2004 Gatumba refugee camp massacre. I know this is no new news to women in Congo, killings and rape happens to them everyday, and it shouldn’t have to be a norm, Should it?
I told Anna Cave and Grant Harris that women cannot run from the violence, they are instead ready to offer solutions in the peace process. It’s time for a presidential envoy that is going to tap Congo women’s potential; we need your support and we are ready for a new country where women are not victimized but are fighting for their daughters and granddaughters. I also urged the White House to help bring peace back. This is very important to me, I also want to be part of this woman's movement to create new Congo; where every woman’s potential are latched. I just do not want to be a bystander, especially when it comes to my home country. It was such honor and I was humble to represent such powerful and inspirational women of Congo; they are my heroes. Although I wished Neema and grassroots women could have been there; but I felt the connection and the passion with them while I was speaking; I have been in their shoes and we are in this together. I have a strong desire to help improve my home country of Congo, especially the women who are currently experiencing the highest rate of rape in the world due to the armed conflicts in Congo. However, I know I need to advocate for peace in this region so that it will be safe enough for me to work as nurse and a woman leader in Congo in the future.