A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman

Language: English

Pages: 344

ISBN: 1580053599

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Lisa Shannon had what some would call a good life—her own business, a successful fiancé, a secure home. Then one day in 2005, shortly after her father’s death, an episode of Oprah changed everything. The show about women in the Congo depicted atrocities too horrible to comprehend: millions dead, women gang-raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers. That day Lisa woke up to her dissatisfaction with the “good” life and to her role as an activist and a sister.

She created a foundation called Run for Congo Women, with the goal to raise money to sponsor 30 Congolese women. What started as a solo 30-mile run has now grown into a national organization in connection with Women for Women International. Run for Congo Women holds fundraising runs in four countries and ten states, and continues to raise money and awareness. In A Thousand Sisters, Lisa shares firsthand accounts of her experiences visiting the Congo, the women she’s helped, and the relationships she’s formed. With compelling stories of why she remains committed to this cause, Lisa inspires her audience to reach out and help as well, forming a sisterhood that transcends geographic boundaries.

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are reaching out to their church to sponsor their walk. More than a hundred people showed up for the Second Annual Portland Run for Congo Women. With all the interest, I decided to take the run on the road. I took out permits in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., hoping to spark a movement. We have more than forty registrations for the First Annual New York Run for Congo Women. With this morning’s rainy weather, I’m not optimistic about the turnout. We’ve already

here. Boys collect their parting gifts—a blanket, a soccer ball, and some tennis shoes—before heading for the vans that will drive them south to be reunited with their families. Noella’s shaved head blends in with the ninety boys’ faces in the group. Her skinny eleven-year-old frame swims in her oversize pajama bottoms. Perhaps that’s why I missed her; she doesn’t look like a girl. Or perhaps her history has made her expert in being invisible. She comes to my attention because of her

“Yes, Lisa. Very sympathetic.” Sweet. So I’ve hired the brother of an Interahamwe-sympathizing Women for Women hater. I’m off to a great start. . . . I’m taking nothing for granted, so I decide to keep an eye on Maurice, to make sure he’s not showing any bias. A sister, Furaha, slips into our meeting late, the last to arrive. She hasn’t picked up on the tone of the meeting, the cues to join the campaign for more cash. She begins to talk, but starts weeping. “I came from Ninja, a village

But I am feeling the pressure. Mili- tary in the village. Port closing. Long boatride home. 174 A t ho u s a n d s i s t e r s ThousandSisters-4thPages.indd 174 1/29/10 1:57:40 PM I press Hortense to translate again. “Can she just list the names and how old they were when they died?” “Liza also died,” she says. “Ruben also died. Na . . . Na . . . Nape also died.” She struggles. “Some died when they were two, some others were a few months old, a few more than three years old.

would be lovely,” I respond. “Yes, that would be lovely,” he says. Uh-oh. We take a seat. D leans over at every opportunity, offering me his toma- toes and bread as we try to talk over Modern Stanley, who sits between us. Conversation turns to the subject of risk. D points to me as an example. “You see, Lisa, your being here in Congo is a major risk, but you must get something out of it. Something bigger than your potential regret for staying at home.” D gets a call and excuses

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