Like most people who follow the news I’ve been reading about the rapes in the Congo that have been going on since 1998, stories of such horror that it dwarfs any other brutal stories I’ve ever read. Old women, young women, children, no one escaped the tentacles of rape. I’ve never been to Africa. I know little about the country. But reading these stories resurrects an anger in me I didn’t know I was capable of. The last few months I’ve been drawn to this continent, first of all when my courageous friend Ruth started the first Lamplighter chapter in Africa, in Lagos, Nigeria. It was soon followed by Joan in Nairobi, Kenya. Both women, tirelessly working to help other women, fill me with pride….that the world in its darkest hour in its darkest night in its darkest place would produce women who are fighting back, who are making a difference. I mailed copies of REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse to both Ruth and Joan. They are teaching the program to the women who come to their meetings. Then Ruth brought me another woman to start another chapter in Nigeria, Adeola. Then she found May who started a chapter in Mundri, Sudan and then another chapter by Regina in Mundri, Sudan again. In the midst of this I heard from someone in Tunisia who wanted to start a chapter there. That brings us to seven Lamplighter chapters in Africa. But we need hundreds. Ruth is looking for more. I am combing the Internet, my fingers flying hours out of every day trying to find anyone who will help me to get Lamplighter Chapters and the REPAIR Program into Africa.
I’m in contact with Paul Rusasabagina from the Hotel Rwanda Rusasabagina Foundation and Kitty Kurth his Director of Strategy to see if they can help me get more Lamplighter chapters into Africa and others in South Africa to get Lamplighter chapters there. Everyday, my nerves taut, I check my email waiting for people to contact me who are going to start another Lamplighter chapter in Africa. Then it is like Christmas to me. “Hooray!” I holler to my husband, “We have another chapter in Africa.” I have a map of the world in my library and I have a flag posted on every country that has Lamplighter chapters. We have eleven total. Everyday I look at Africa. I picture it with so many flags you can’t see the map. I see the faces of all the children, all the women who were so brutally raped and I think my heart will stop from wanting to reach out and hug them all to me.
I say to God, “The worst crime in humanity is to harm the innocent. Please help me to help them.” And God will listen. He too sees the faces of all the children, of all the women in their darkest hour…..in their darkest night…and He will listen.