Congratulations to my friend and hero, Dr. Denis Mukwege, on being named a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. He heads Panzi Hospital in Bakuvu, Congo. I was a grad student earning a Master's in International Women studies, concentrating on women in war torn countries. I has studied his work on repairing women's bodies from the evils of war in a protracted civil war that used rape against women as a weapon of war. It was 2007 and I was considering a documentary on those women and others as my thesis. He not only healed women's bodies but helped them get a second chance in life. I was more than inspired by him.
I heard he was coming to the U-S and flew to the Holocaust Museum in D-C hoping to interview him. He graciously agreed. Before meeting him I had heard about the war and saw a news series in 2001 on what was happening there. Naively, I wrote a book to give the proceeds to a woman I saw in the series HEART OF DARKNESS. I tried to find her to no avail.
Fast forward and now I was getting a degree to know how to help women in those situations. He was my inspiration to change course in my career as a television journalist and now start concentrating on stories about issues impacting women's lives as well as to start doing stories on inspiring women. Meeting him meant I now had a way to give me money from the book to aid Congo women.
His winning this award means other people will now know what these women have suffered through. My women's summit, this website, and the stories I tell on television are all rooted in this man's labor of love to help these women. Please consider purchasing my book knowing the proceeds will help change your life and that of the women in Congo. YOU can also listen to a portion of my thesis documentary below 'TOUCH A WOMAN, TOUCH A ROCK'
The Women of Kisele Village
By Elaine HoustonWomen in rural Tanzanian Villages are strong women. They have to be because they are responsible for a lot, including balancing household duties, child rearing, and work, as they are typically the major financial providers for their families. With all of their family obligations, they generally do not have the time or resources to focus on generating income.That's where the The Village Heart Project comes in. Sponsored by the African Reflections Foundation (ARF) the project recognizes this disparity and aims to promote Women Empowerment to enhance quality of life in rural communities. One of the many villages ARF works closely with is Kisele Village in Mkuranga, Tanzania. Recently, they have encouraged the women in this rural village to form a women's group to promote unity and synergy. They decided on the name "Matokeo" which in Swahili means "results". The name shows the stead-fast mindset of these women and how they are looking forward to seeing change and results within their community. With the help of African Reflections Founder Maryvonne Pool along with volunteer Alexandria Faure, a 10-acre farming project was launched in Kisele. Together, they have set the groundwork to grow turmeric and ginger. Once the plants are harvested, the women will be able to sell their produce. Matokeo has faced obstacles since starting their farming project such as torrential rain however they are not letting that stop them and are still working hard. They are determined to create a more enriching and sustainable life through agriculture and ARF is there to help them every step of the way.
MAKING WOMEN IN KENYA LOOK GOOD UNDERNEATH KENYA
By Elaine Houston
A great necklace can make a woman’s dress sing but it’s what’s underneath that dress that’s grabbing the attention of four twenty-somethings from Kenya. Meet Charity, Constance, Millicent and Stella. They are the owners of Double Dees, a women’s lingerie store in Nairobi, Kenya.
Victoria may have a secret, but these ladies want everyone to know that a good bra gives a woman confidence and for women in Kenya who are beautifully endowed that confidence was lacking because they could not find a bra that fit. So, necessity as the saying goes became the mother of invention. The four friends, two in college in Kenya and two in college in the U-S, knew they had to open a store to fill that need.
Opportunity came knocking when Stella pitched the idea of Double Dee’s Lingerie to the Harvard Women in Business innovations competition in 2014. “We didn’t emerge the winners but we received great feedback and revised the business plan accordingly, said Stella.’’ In 2015, Stella with a revised business plan, pitched the idea again at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York before members of the New York State Business Plan Regional Competition and Double Dee's won first place. It earned the group 20,000 dollars and 5,000 dollars worth of legal fees.
Stella pitched again to Harvard again that same year and the business plan came in 2nd and won 2,000. They used the funds to rent a space and opened Double Dee’s Lingerie store in June, 2016. They are already thinking of the future and of giving Kenyan women the lift they need. “”Our three year plan is to have multiple stores all over the country and in East Africa, says Stella.” They carry sizes 30D to M.
I wrote this book in 2004, to help women in Congo currently the victims of a protracted war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They are being kidnapped and raped by the thousands. The money from this book goes to a hospital, Panzi Hospital where the women are being helped by amazing people under the leadership of Dr. Denis Mukewege, who is co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Please listen to a portion of a documentary, TOUCH A WOMAN, TOUCH A ROCK below that I produced on women in Congo. Thanks, Elaine Purchase book