So I was searching around wondering how I was going to begin discussing what I think is a very important topic when I happened to scroll down the page and noticed that the are exactly 613 folks who follow this blog. Now, if you're Jewish or even if you're not, you know that in Judaism, 613 is a very significant number. If you were to count up all the mitzvot or commandments mentioned in the Torah, you would get the number 613.
Guess what? Many of these commandments apply even if you're not Jewish. Love your neighbor as yourself. Sound familiar? Be generous to those who are less fortunate. I bet that rings a bell too.
There's a much quoted Jewish text that states, " You're not required to complete the work, but neither are you entitled to abstain from it." The work referred to here is making our world a better place. No one single individual can fix all that's wrong, but we're all obligated to be part of the effort.
I hope to be part of the effort by participating in an online fundraiser sponsored by Alissa of Handmade by Alissa fame.
Many of us are familiar with Alissa through her wonderful quilted creations, but this week her claim to fame has to do with a special project she has undertaken to buoy the efforts of her sister, Cate, who works for the non-profit organization, Action Kivu.
In a recent email, Alissa described the work of Action Kivu and her impetus for getting involved:
The conflict in Congo has taken the lives of over 5.4 million people since 1998. Rape is used as a weapon of war, with estimates putting the number of rapes in the hundreds of thousands.
Action Kivu provides some of the Eastern Congo's victims of violence with the opportunity to rebuild their lives on a foundation of hope, dignity, and economic self-sustenance. Their approach is spearheaded through two programs. First, they run a sewing workshop that teaches women who are victims of the conflict to sew. This leads them to be able to support themselves and their families. Secondly, they pay for children to go to school which is not free in Congo. It costs $40 a year, per child. That's very little money that makes a big impact.
Needless to say, this specific organization, with its link to sewing and women, really strikes a personal chord in me. Our online sewing community is so blessed to be able to pursue our love of sewing as a hobby, career, or just for fun, but for these women, learning to sew will be life changing and give them hope for their futures.
The Action Kivu sewing workshop of course costs money to run and they need supplies - sewing machines and more. They do not need the goods themselves, but the money to buy them.
If you are wondering why we can't just donate our old sewing machines, there are a few reasons. First, getting supplies to Eastern Congo is no simple task and would cost more than the value of the goods. Secondly they need very specific things. For example, they don't always have power so they need trundle sewing machines. Lastly, it's best that they buy the supplies there, putting the money into the local economy. You can imagine that buying a sewing machine helps not only the woman who sews with it, but the person they buy it from and the money trickles down from there.
I am launching this fundraiser to raise the money the Action Kivu sewing workshop needs for their supplies and I hope that you'll join me.
Action Kivu is run in Eastern Congo by a Congolese man, Amani Matabaro, who Cate knows personally and who is amazingly passionate and committed to his cause of helping women and children in his country. As an orphan who lost his parents in the conflict, he was driven to try to do something to help. He currently works as an interpreter for the UN and runs Action Kivu in all of his spare time.
Amani has specifically asked for these things - we will not be throwing this money into the wind, not knowing where it's going. Through photos and emails with Amani we will be able to see the immediate and concrete results of our fundraising.
Alissa's sister Cate put together this amazingly powerful video that introduces us to the conflict as well as to Amani Matabaro.
I was particularly struck by what Amani had to say regarding the distance between the US and Africa. He rightly states that though our countries are far away from each other, we here in the US can do something to empower and better the lives of the people of Kivu. We are so lucky to have that opportunity.
So, I ask you, encourage you, implore you, to click on this link and donate. Be part of the work to make the world just a little bit better.