where the writers are
"Any man´s death diminishes me"

The year is 1996. You are a 13 year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and armed groups want to recruit you for the war. They come to your house, but your father, who loves you dearly, tells you to escape, to run away. You do that. You walk through five different countries, and you endure exhaustion, hunger, thirst, pain and cruelty to get to South Africa, a safer place. When you get to the border, you have to cross a crocodile infested river, a national park surrounded by electrical fences and the customs, that tell you that they can´t let you in because, sorry, you don´t have a passport. When, after some time, you are eventually admitted into the country, you are a black boy living  on the streets of Cape Town, only two years after the end of the apartheid, which means that it is pretty much still there. You get kicked, beaten up, hostilized, but still you manage to go to school every day, after spending the nights on the streets.

 

For most of us, the end of this story would be just closing a book, or turning off the TV. Not for journalist Pappy Orion. He is that kid.

Pappy came to Brazil to tell us his story, and the story of his beloved Congo. After living in South Africa for  thirteen years, Pappy went back to Congo and shot a documentary about the horrors perpretated by the armed groups to the Congolese people. Massive rapes and killing, recruiting of children to war, and the weakening and destruction of a once vibrant people. One of Pappy´s sisters was raped when she was five and became HIV positive. She died of Aids last year. The images and testimonies are devastating.

I met Pappy and interpreted for him in two occasions. I also met Coach João do Carmo, a Physical Education teacher who does volunteer work with kids from extremely empoverished communities here in Passo Fundo, and Pappy´s host in town. Pappy and Carmo met through the Internet, and he came to learn from Carmo´s humanitarian project of getting kids out of the streets and into sports. He wants to do the same in Congo, and Carmo will travel there to help him out. 

When people ask them, how can we help? They simply say: donate sports material for the kids there(it´s easier for most Congolese children to get a gun than to get a soccer ball). It´s as simple as that, and it helps volumes- people here have donated more than 300 hundred soccer balls already. The point is, do something. Do not just stay there, watching things happen, or worse, being completely unaware of what happens in the world.Most of the times, the simplest things can help. If you can´t afford donating money or objects, donate your skills. Your expertise in some area, your writing skills, your translation skills, even passing the message on and letting more people know about what goes on can help. 

We have many examples here at Redroom of people somehow donating themselves to make the world a better place: Ellen denouncing the (dis)honor killings, Dr. Jitu with his patients in India, Susan and KidThree, Mary with Missy, Kunzang with Maddie and the other dogs at the shelter, Raul and the respectable place of immigrants in society, and many other people - the list is very long to mention everybody (which says a lot about this community). Thank you all and please, keep on.

We each are a piece of humanity. The bells are tolling every minute.  Incessantly.

 

From left to right, Luciana, Pappy, and Taís from UPF TV, who´s been also collecting the donations. Photo taken by Coach Carmo. I feel lucky to have met such wonderful human beings.

Comments
12 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Luciana, thanks for the

Luciana, thanks for the recognition by way of plug.

What is truly astonishing to me is how little it takes to help in some circumstances. There are children who miss out on an education for lack of US$20 equivalent in school fees. Others get malaria for want of a few yards of mosquito netting. If everyone did what s/he can, we could move mountains.

If Pappy needed soccer balls, he came to the right place! Pappy looks happy to have met you.

Comment Bubble Tip

An inspirational read

An inspirational read Luciana! The bells are tolling every minute. Incessantly: this is a powerful sentence(s). By the way Missy sends you a hug, she is a delight, happy and full of joy to be living here with us! M

Comment Bubble Tip

Thanks Mary!  I came across

Thanks Mary!  I came across John Donne´s Meditation XVII in Western Literature classes, in College. The idea within it that "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." occurs to me as one of the best ways to describe our responsibility regarding each other in this world. And, as you´ve shown us with Missy, it´s not only between humans. If the human race is part of nature, then we should , as the "thinking" part, be responsible for the other parts as well. Tell Missy I said hello. Does she still have that imported pail around her neck? :-D

Comment Bubble Tip

No, the pail has been

No, the pail has been removed! She loves the bog, sniffing and poking around and dreaming her own private dog dreams as she explores the territory, hers from the looks of it. Mp

Comment Bubble Tip

Thank you for this powerful

Thank you for this powerful reminder that we all have the power to contribute in small but significant ways.

Comment Bubble Tip

Ellen and Jane, I believe

Ellen and Jane, I believe that most people want to help but don´t, and I think it has to do with the idea of sometimes people not feeling "big" or influential enough to do something. When they realize that those small things can really make a difference, they join in. I had a teacher who always told us: don´t be afraid of sounding obvious; the obvious has to be said. I might have sounded obvious here, but I felt that, in having a blog page, I should talk about it. Thanks for helping me out with your comments! :-)

Comment Bubble Tip

People tend to underestimate

People tend to underestimate themselves, what they can contribute, and how impactful it is.

It reminds me of that tale of a child who comes across oodles and oodles of starfish mysteriously washed up on a beach and starts throwing them back into the sea, one by one.  Along comes a man who takes in the size of the job and asks the child, "Son, why are you even trying?  You will never be able to clear this beach.  It doesn't matter. . .let it be."  And the child says, "It matters to this one," as he tosses another starfish into the surf.

Comment Bubble Tip

That´s a beautiful tale.

That´s a beautiful tale. Yes, each and every one counts.

 

Comment Bubble Tip

Another way to help

Another way to help the children of the DR Congo is through child sponsorship. For a small donation of just $10 per month you can send a child in the DR Congo to school. 100% of your sponsorship donation is sent directly to Africa - none is used to cover the administrative expenses of the program in the US. For more info please visit www.hishandsforafrica.org.

Comment Bubble Tip

Jamie, thanks for the link

Jamie, thanks for the link and for joining in!

Comment Bubble Tip

Thanks, Luciana

Belatedly I am reading about Pappy Orion (who I expected to be an old man) after linking here from the Belgium Julie Andrews song and dance. That was great. I had to replay it and dance along. I am grateful to learn about Pappy and what he is doing for the kids in the Congo.

Comment Bubble Tip

Hi Sue, Pappy is an old

Hi Sue,
Pappy is an old soul. He´s able to smile and laugh in spite of everything he´s been through. Really remarkable.
I´m glad you enjoyed the video from Belgium. I wish I were there dancing with them. :-)