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Immaculee Prompts Many Discoveries

May 18, 2009

By Mary Donovan

My mind is aswirl with thoughts about Africa. In anticipation of hearing Immaculee Ilibagiza at November’s conference, I’ve been reading everything I can about Rwanda – and finding out a few surprising things. Mostly I learned how easy life is for me and how hard it is for women in areas affected by war.

I also found out how difficult it is to picture life without the fundamental basics we consider a necessary platform for survival. I’m talking about healthcare (bad as it reputedly is, it’s not that bad). I’m talking about the car, the computer, the tiled bathroom, the lovely lawn, the discretionary income.

I found out that my sister sponsors a woman in the Congo through an organization called “Women for Women, International.’’ I read the material. It told of one woman who was able with the help from her sponsor to give up prostitution and support herself and her child selling charcoal. Of all the part time jobs I could scrape out of my brain, selling charcoal wasn’t one of them.

I read about Rwandan orphans, some of them children of rape, some of them children of murdered parents. Imaculee Ilibageza has a foundation to help educate these children.

There are other problems and other areas, but I’m still focused on Africa. I read a column recently in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristoff and I found out that I am a woman of privilege. I must be, I’ve had seven kids and I’m not dead If I lived in West Africa, I very likely might be. According to Kristoff, in that part of the world motherhood is one of the grimmest risks to human life.

Of course this is true in other parts of the world as well. Poverty, lack of education and inadequate resources are factors. Women die from complications of pregnancy and birth that could often be prevented by simple procedures. A very large factor, evidentally, is the cultural estimation of poor women as expendable human beings.

Kristoff listed organizations which are working to alleviate just these problems: White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. CARE, and Averting Maternal Death and Disability.

I found, not surprisingly, that there’s no kicking back and coasting in to the finish. There’s too much to be done.

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