Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Greatest Silence

This week on the Loyola campus is Congo week. There are different events to raise awareness about the immense amount of violence occurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The event I attended last night was a documentary titled "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo." The movie was about the use of rape of women as a war tactic. It is estimated that over tens of thousands of women and girls have been brutally raped. They are often shunned from their villages and rejected by their families. It is lucky if they are able to find a husband after being raped. Many contract horrendous disease, such as HIV, from the rape and mutilation. This is a serious problem that not many people are aware of. They are crying out for help, and Loyola being a Jesuit school, are hearing their cry.
Community service is something that so many students at Loyola participate in. But what if help is needed beyond our community? There are students who are looking to help those in another country, The Republic of Congo. They want to do whatever they can to raise awareness about the issues there. This is exactly what a Jesuit education teaches students. That is, to help those who have a need. To give up our time and resources to better others' lives. We experience this through our service-learning classes, but this goes beyond that. This is beyond our local community, even our country. Our Jesuit education has allowed us to see the desperation of this country, and has given us the tools to find ways to make a difference.
Hearing the victim's stories in the film, it was hard not to feel a deep sense of sadness and sympathy for these women. And yet, they also portrayed hope and grace. Even after having been through so much violence and death, they were still able to find joy in their life. Some have married, most have children and families. And they have God. The pray that one day their children will have a better life then they did, and that the violence will stop. They are survivors, just as the speaker of "this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)" by Lucille Clifton. Both the victims of rape and the girl in this poem wake up each morning, feeling happy to be alive. They may have a tough life, whether it be racial discrimination or a crime committed against them, but they continue to survive.
As I was watching the movie, I also felt a sense of hope. This hope was because of the people who actually live in the Congo and are giving all their efforts to help the rape victims. These two people, a female police officer who handled the cases of the women who wanted to press charges against their assailants, and a doctor who performed surgeries everyday on injured victims. They were able to make a positive difference in a victim's life. In the poem "Fork" by Jeffrey Harrison, one person was affected the speaker's life as well. The speaker's worst teacher they had during their school years influenced them to become a writer. Would they have become one if they did not have that teacher? In each case, lives were altered because of one person.

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