Ashley Judd Aides Victims of Mineral Trade in the Congo
Ashley Judd has just completed her second trip to eastern Congo, providing relief for the continued staggering violence spawned due to the discovery of valuable minerals in the area.
Her quest began in 2003. Ashley began spending much of her time traveling the globe, visiting sections of Africa and India, witnessing disparaged populations, and searching for grassroots solutions, especially for issues that effect young women and girls.
On this particular journey, she travels with John Prendergast of the Enough Project . She met last week with local businessmen, officials and victims of rape in the Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a two edged sword, in the form of tungsten, tantalum and tin, valuable resources used by many computer, cell phone and other electronic manufacturers. As militia, government and other groups struggle for control of the resources for sale to American companies and the like, mass violence and rape ensues.
Villages and settlements built on or around these resources become targets the instant the wealth is discovered. Militias will rape, murder and torture in an effort to get villagers to simply leave the area, so mining can continue uninterrupted. This has created an influx of displaced people across the Congo.
Today, Ashley visited one such camp. As the unrelenting sun stood high in the sky, Ashley conversed quietly with three different women in front of a colorful cloth shelter. All three of the women had been raped multiple times, and had borne children conceived then. One of the women had been gang-raped three times. The women wanted to point out that these unspeakable atrocities were enacted by both the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and the Congo militia.
The FDLR was blamed for the 1994 genocide and fled into the more remote provinces of eastern Congo, where they have fueled a war for over five years, resulting in approximately 3 million deaths.
Ashley talked to these women about their experiences. It became apparent early on in the conversation that people here are all simply in survival mode, concerned only with where there next meal was. The poverty here is intense, invasive, and everywhere. There’s no electricity, no running water. The water they do have is unclean, but drank anyways.
After conversing with the women, Ashley reaches out to others in the village, handing out food rations and basic goods, pausing just long enough to speak a little about her experiences and motivations for her work.
“Your motivation is the most important thing” she says, “And you have to do your homework. You need to understand local context. Take the time to educate yourself, learn the history and the political structure of an area. Watch documentaries.”
With a dozen or so humanitarian missions under her belt, Ashley says the emotional drain never goes away. “I have a breakdown on every trip.”
Ashley’s motives are undeniably pure. The work she is doing flys mostly under the radar, as sadly, most of the world finds it easy to turn a blind eye to many areas of Africa and the Congo specifically. The attention brought to the organizations she works with is most definitely saving lives, and making conditions slightly more livable, where perhaps some of these people can dream of a better future for their children, rather than just surviving to the end of the day. To see a talent such as Judd giving so freely is an inspiration and tribute to the loving, unselfish capacity of the human race, the very same race that unfortunately, oftentimes yields such unspeakable horrors.
To legitimately make a difference, you can send an email to the world’s top 20 electronic manufacturers and demand that these companies create a clean supply of minerals to create there products, and not used blood minerals from the Congo.
A list of companies can be found here.
Also the Population Services International works to help poor women deal with preventable disease, family planning, and dealing with HIV. They do excellent work and naturally accept contributions.