|Father Jean-Claude giving his speech|
Our own Father Jean-Claude of JPF introduced the audience to the Democratic Republic of Congo (did you know that the Congo has the world's second-largest rain forest?) and its abundant natural resources. He described the perplexing, heart-rending poverty the region faces despite its natural resources. He described the Congo's exploitation by foreign companies more interested in its resources than its people. He went on to recount how that inspired him to create JPF in 1999, and went over the work JPF does in the Congo.
Carrie Crawford gave a powerful speech about how advocacy efforts in Washington can improve the lives of many Congolese in the D.R.C. Efforts from Washington will only come after people around the U.S. demonstrate their interest in the Congo and the plight of the people there. She urged the audience to go to Friends of the Congo's website and sign their petitions.
JD Stier also spoke about advocacy efforts, and spreading word about the Congo to more and more people. He moved the audience into pulling out their cell phones and texting the word "Congo" to a number--thus raising awareness right there. He asked people to think about their cell phones, the mineral coltan, and how they could not have their cell phones were it not for the riches of the Congo.
Lastly, Christian Kulemfuka motivated the audience with his deep, enthusiastic speech about his homeland, staying proud, and defending the Congo. "You can take me out of the Congo, but you cannot take the Congo out of me," Kulemfuka said to loud round of cheers and applause. With much heartfelt emotion, Kulemfuka also recited a poem about the rape of the women and children in the Congo.
The stimulated audience then asked many questions, which also sparked responses from other members of the audience!
Thank you all for coming to STAND FOR CONGO--you made it a great event, and we couldn't have done it without you. Also, a special thank-you to the Metropolitan Dental Group for sponsoring our event and facilitating dialogue about the Congo! Your kindness and generosity is much appreciated by us here at JPF.