**Documentary filmmaker Eric Metzgar, who traveled to the DR Congo with Nicholas Kristof to make the acclaimed film REPORTER, is now embarking on a bike ride to raise funds for WfWI. Below he writes about how his experience in Congo changed his life and what he’s doing to make a difference for the women we serve.
I’ve decided to take a bike ride. A long one. Starting on my birthday on November 8th, I’m going to ride from New York to Richmond, Virginia. It should take about a week. I’ve been training for months and I’m incredibly excited. Here’s why…
In 2007, I traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to make a documentary about Nicholas Kristof (the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times) as he reported on the Congo’s continuing humanitarian crisis. The trip became a turning point in my life, and the film became REPORTER (HBO, 2010).
In Congo, we witnessed unspeakable suffering, but also incredible beauty and resilience. Shaping what I saw into a film was a great privilege. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t think of the people we encountered, though it’s been four years since our trip.
REPORTER premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, was broadcast on HBO in 2010, and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011. All of this has been quite exciting, and I’m grateful that the film has done (and hopefully will continue to do) its small part to raise awareness. But in the meantime, the crisis in Congo rages on, and the latest statistics are just unbearable. Brace yourself.
About 50 women are raped in the Congo every hour. That’s over 1100 a day. That’s why Congo has been dubbed “the worst place in the world to be a woman.” They live in perpetual risk of violence, rape, theft, famine and disease. Currently, almost 2,000,000 people are internally displaced. 5,400,000 people have died in the last ten years as a result of the ongoing warfare – making it the deadliest conflict since World War II.
These numbers are pretty much incomprehensible. Those of you who have seen REPORTER might remember the concept of psychic numbing, which describes how such statistics deaden our compassion, instead of stimulating it. But these statistics are growing, so what can we do?
For one, we can support organizations in Congo that are doing meaningful work to relieve suffering. One group that I particularly admire is Women for Women International (WfWI). That’s why I’ve decided to create this fundraiser in order to support their vital work in Congo.
During our trip, we visited the group’s headquarters in Kigali, Rwanda. The red brick building was packed full of beautiful, smiling women, each a survivor of violence. Each was busy learning skills that would enable them to thrive in their communities. Each was receiving emotional counseling. Each was healing in a safe environment. Each was learning to live again.
As Nick has stressed again and again in his columns and fantastic new book Half the Sky, investing in women has broad multiplier effects. Women’s well-being directly correlates to how a society fares overall. Sounds like a no-brainer, but as we all know, much of our world just doesn’t work this way. Real progress requires deliberate action towards this goal, and WfWI is leading this charge.
Though the problems in Congo are vast and complex, broken lives can be mended. Our help can make a difference – I’ve seen it with my own eyes. So I hope you’ll join me in supporting WfWI as they work to heal the women of Congo. If you donate to my ride, every penny you give will go directly to Women for Women International.
All donations are tax-deductible. Each donor will automatically receive an email confirmation that serves as your donation acknowledgement letter for tax deduction purposes. (Women for Women Int’l is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization.)
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
YOUR SUPPORT MEANS EVERYTHING.
REPORTER website: http://www.reporterfilm.com