Friday, June 29, 2012

SHONA: Helping the Women of Goma, One Bag at a Time

"Congo is the worst place to be a woman."

"Women as human pack-horses."

"The human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remained grave."

These are the descriptions and images that bombard the average citizen in the West when getting news about the DRC--that is, when any news is relayed at all. To most Westerners slightly acquainted with the country, it is a country of lawlessness and danger. It is a country where a woman can be raped at any moment. It is a country filled with rebel groups fighting motivated by greed and lust for power. It is a land to be pitied. The Western media thrives on this representation, perpetuating and almost relishing the image it presents of the Congo, and Africa in general (See a recent New York Times article It is a modern Heart of Darkness. So it is refreshing, and unfortunately rare to get a different perspective on the region.

Dawn Hurley is an incredibly intelligent, thought-provoking, and rare commentator on the Eastern Congo who writes, from a Western perspective, about what is hardly ever written when it comes to the Congo--the normal lives of the people she meets around her, depicted in a rather positive light.

Hurley, a New Yorker, came to the DRC with her husband, an aid worker who gives microfinance loans to the Congolese people. In a fresh, often humorous voice, Hurley relates the contrasts (water-collecting villagers on cellphones!) and beauty of the country.

While there, she started a small sewing group, that developed over time into SHONA. SHONA is a group of physically handicapped women who sew, and sell their wares through their website ( and on eBay. The women all live and work together as a group, exemplifying their interdependence and independence.

Hurley uses her blog posts to speak about the situation in the Congo and advertise her wares, and does a great job of selling each.

Check out her blog:

And SHONA's website:

Enjoy, donate, learn.

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