This Saturday I did what thousands of Americans do: I attended a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization. All across America on a typical weekend, hundreds of thousands of people are participating in events to raise money. The list is long and interesting: runs of all sizes and lengths, long and short bike rides, walk-a-thons, bake sales, telethons, and flea markets─to name only a few of the more familiar ones. It’s a great combination of two American virtues: perpetual motion and a passion for wanting to do something useful. After a life time of such events, I’m gradually de-acquiring─ primarily donating─an amazing collection of T-shirts and tote bags from a slew of 10k races and public broadcasting fundraisers in particular.
This Saturday I was in New York to cheer on my wife Faith as she ran in a race to raise money for the charity Women for Women International and the organization Run for Congo Women. She not only finished the race─a feat in itself─she surpassed her fundingraising goal by 150 percent and was one of the top fundraisers for the day.
Run for Congo Women was started by a human dynamo by the name of Lisa Shannon. Listen to how she describes herself and her book, “A Thousand Sisters,” on her website:
“I had a great life—a successful business, a fiancé, a home, and security. But in the wake of my Dad’s death, and soon-to-be thirty years old, I found myself depressed, camped out in my living room watching Oprah. It was there that I learned about Congo, widely called the worst place on earth to be a woman. Awakened to the atrocities─millions dead, women being raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers─I had to do something.
A Thousand Sisters chronicles how I raised sponsorships for Congolese women, beginning with a solo 30-mile run, and then founded Run for Congo Women. Despite countless warnings, with no credentials, I abandon my quickly collapsing home life and plunge into an unlikely lone journey through eastern Congo on a mission to ignite a movement for the world’s most forgotten women, to meet hundreds of my sponsored “sisters,” and hear their stories firsthand. But in a place where no man with a gun is the good guy, I confront militias, massacres, murder cover-ups, and unspeakable horror. Along the way I am forced to learn lessons of survival, fear, gratitude, and love from the women of Congo. A Thousand Sisters is a portrait of the world’s deadliest war through the intimate lens of friendship. It is a story of passion, hope, and my journey to carve out human bonds that cannot be touched by terror.”
That’s all it took: one woman, some motivation, and lots of determination. Now her passion is turning into a movement.
On her website Lisa suggests 9 things you can do. Here’s her number nine:
“Dream up something all your own, like I did!”
What are we doing this week?
You can read more about Run for Congo Women here: http://www.runforcongowomen.org/index.html.
The preceding is a guest post by Bob Ottenhoff, Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.