Friday, February 05, 2010

A little bit of inspiration

If you missed Nick Kristof's column in the NY Times yesterday on a young American woman, Lisa Shannon, who has decided to devote her life to helping women in the Congo, From ‘Oprah’ to Building a Sisterhood in Congo, it's worth a read. And if you don't want to spend the time reading, try this video which basically tells the same story, only in a more inspiring presentation, if that's possible: "An American in Congo."

If you have been following the Harper government's actions in foreign affairs, the above might make you a little upset. This government has dialled back the language in our foreign policy on the Congo, removing the words "justice' and "impunity." In other words, no longer seeking prosecutions of those who commit the crimes against the women there, in the International Criminal Court, weakening our position on it. Why? This government has also instituted cuts to KAIROS who were to fund a legal clinic for women in the Congo and will now no longer be able to do so.

I suspect things might change under a new government, though, consider this exchange on a live chat yesterday afternoon:
Que pensez-vous monsieur du drame au Congo democratique, on entend presque jamais le canada se prononce au sujet du drame a l'est du congo.

4:33 Bob Rae: C'est une tragedie de grandes proportions, et Vitia vous avex raison que le gouvernement Harper a ete completement silent. Nous devons comprendre toutes les dimensions de cette situation et etre pret a offrir notre aide a l'Union Africaine dans son travail dans la region.
A brief answer in a brief chat but a positive indication of a commitment to engagement on such issues versus the withdrawal we've seen from the Harper government. The U.S. is stepping up there, as are individuals like Lisa Shannon. It would be nice to have a Canadian government that would too.