Sunday, November 25, 2012

The best of grassroots in the Congo.

Posted else where, September 2010: KuangSi2In December, one of the HEAL Africa counselors was dispatched from Goma to Lubutu to advocate for a woman that needed legal help. The woman was a patient in a hospital where a nurse raped her. She was poor and powerless to prosecute him without HEAL Africa's help. When the counselor intervened, the hospital administration fired the nurse, who was sorely indignant at losing his job. He had been well paid, so his family lost their standard of living. Tribal leaders in the local villages saw this as a grave injustice against the man, and began to make dire threats to kill the counselor, and they promised to band together and sabotage HEAL Africa's operations throughout the region. This story has been unfolding since last December, when a huge transformation was born in North Kivu and Maniema. This is political change rooted from the ground up, organized by HEAL Africa in partnership with the American Bar Association. Their work is bearing fruit. The ABA/HEAL Africa partnership teaches people about the DRC constitution passed in 2006. The new law defines rights for women and children; it defines “abuse”, and clarifies inheritance. Rape is now illegal in all contexts, and young girl cannot be married to an older man. They provide legal counsel for victims of sexual violence, and support them through the prosecution. ABA/HEAL Africa also works with local judges and lawyers to create a justice system where rapists go to jail and sentences stick. KuangSi2This is Mama Muliri, who appeared in an EcoJustice diary last May. She is a community organizer who founded HEAL Africa's Heal My People program. She brings the best of grassroots activism to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Muliri responded to the threats by going to Lubutu herself and facing the tribal leaders eye to eye. As promised, they met her brandishing machetes and guns. They chanted and threw rocks at her, but she stood her ground, told them about the new constitution passed in 2006, and explained how the law differed from the tribal customs. She demanded that they comply with the law, and asked them to attend a HEAL Africa conference on conflict transformation. A tribal chief holds the keys to changing society in his village. A chief's voice trumps the national law, which is often not trusted or understood, because it is written by unknown people in remote places. The chief determines the de facto law and chooses what is ethical and moral. He defines the values in his community. Tribal elders advise him, and they and act as judge and jury for all local disputes. The chief's word is final. Mama Muliri's act of defiance marked the beginning of a rich collaboration between HEAL Africa and the tribal leaders. They are now working together to create a new future for the Congo. HEAL Africa and the ABA conducted three days of meetings where the tribal leaders learned about the new DRC constitution and how traditional practices conflict with the law. The chiefs worked together to address the conflicts near their villages, and formed strategies to transform the regional conflict and protect their villages. The chiefs took to this cooperative organization like fish to water, and saw a new way that was better for their communities. The chiefs chose to enforce the new law en mass, and they had a demonstration and march through the city to proclaim it so. The tribal leaders now regularly network with HEAL Africa and with each other to serve and protect their people. Muliri works closely with the tribal leaders throughout the North Kivu and nothern Maniema regions, and continues to hold conflict transformation seminars about legal issues and strategy to resolve long term conflicts; right now, they are implementing an intensive program to keep their youth out of the militas. A few days ago, HEAL Africa USA learned that a chief from the Lubutu area collected eight new victims of sexual violence, six women and two men, and immediately notified HEAL Africa so they could be treated and transported to the hospital in Goma. That is a far cry from threatening counselors with rocks and machetes. HEAL Africa has a network of "safe houses" in the areas surrounding the war that provide support for the local communities. They are first-responders to victims of war violence; they educate people about HIV/AIDS, and administer immediate prophylactic care to rape victims before they are transported to the hospital. HEAL Africa works with their Nehemiah Committees, cooperative groups made up of respected Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Kimbunguist -- and now tribal -- leaders that are committed to changing the future of the DRC. Much grassroots work is done through these networks, and the "safe house" role is expanding with each collective success. HEAL Africa recently suffered from large funding cuts, and the grassroots programs were cut to skeleton crews on July 1 in order to keep the hospital open. If you have the means and desire, please donate here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Help create conflict-free green technology.

The Second Congo War, also called Africa's World War, killed 5 million people between 1998 and 2003. It was the largest war in Africa's history; it involved eight African nations and more than twenty armed militias. Although there was an agreement between the warring parties in 2003, the conflict continues in the eastrn region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It continues because of the metal mines that the armed groups fight to control.

There is an action item at the end of this diary that will certainly help save lives and impact suffering: The Senate Financial Overhaul Bill contains a provision that requires companies that use targeted metals to annually report where they buy them. The House Financial Services Committee is reviewing the Senate bill during the next two weeks.

We need to preserve that provision as a necessary first step in conflict relief. These metals are used in clean energy and green technology, as well as medicine and industry in the US across the board. Accountability is key to resolving this war.

The interview below is with Judy Anderson, Executive Director of HEAL Africa USA. HEAL Africa is an organization that helps victims of sexual violence in eastern DRC. Brutal militias use systematic rape and torture as weapons of war, and those who survive these attacks are usually left totally incontinent because they suffer from traumatic gynecologic fistula -- destruction of the tissue between the vagina, bladder, and bowels. These injuries are often the point of the attack. Militias commonly use weapons to rape, mutilate, and leave women for dead.

HEAL Africa has a state of the art hospital that specializes in treating these injuries, as well as other common wounds of this war. It also maintains a number of effective, grassroots programs that support the people who suffer from sexual violence that characterize this war.

The UN reports tens of thousands of these rapes take place per year, and that is since the war officially ended in 2003.



Judy is talking about coltan, the ore that contains tantalum. "Congo is in your cellphone," is a meme. It's true, too. But tantalum is everywhere -- it isn't just in your computer and cellphone. From an engineering perspective, tantalum is a sweetheart metal. It has ideal mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties for applications throughout industry. It can be heated to very high temperatures, it is stable in corrosive environments, and it machines well. And it maintains these properties after heating; tungsten, for example, becomes extremely brittle and fragile once it's heated. This is not so with tantalum, which is easily re-machined after heating to high temperatures. Alloys of tantalum behave nicely, as well.

Camera lenses are made with tantalum oxide. Tantalum metal is ideal for making surgical implants and instruments -- it even bonds with hard tissue better than other metals. It is ductile and supple and it is the metal of choice for fine wires and long-lasting filaments. Its alloys are used in jet engines, missiles, and process equipment for engineering across the board. Our technology makes us dependent on coltan, and it comes from the mines that draw the militia groups to fight this war.

Ngalula was one of the first women treated at the HEAL Africa hospital. A militia destroyed her village, killed her family, kidnapped and kept her as a sex slave. She was only sixteen. After a year and a half in their grasp, she escaped and made her way for help. She was filled with fistulae but also pregnant, so she had to wait until after the baby's birth to have surgery.

In the DRC, abortion is illegal in every context. It is strenuously forbidden by law.



The Congolese people are of strong faith, so HEAL Africa works directly with the faith-based leaders. Catholic, Protestant, Kimbanguist, Muslum, and local tribal leaders help them to affect change. The Nehemiah Committees that are central to changing the face Congo are made up of these leaders.

Mama Muliri is at the heart of this work. She pioneered HEAL Africa's Heal My People program and is a founding member of their Women Stand Up Together program. She was one of the first to stand up to the men who hold power in the DRC and demand a better way for the women who suffer.

The first time Mama Muliri stood in front of the tribal leaders, they met her fully painted, brandishing spears and guns. She stood her ground and demanded change for the women who suffer. After four days of meetings, the political and tribal leaders understood the law and what HEAL Africa was trying to do, and they agreed to stand up with Muliri. Today these leaders give support to the rape victims from their villages.




This war will not end unless we address the corrupt mining operations in east Africa. The action we take must be on two fronts -- we need to stop using buying material that supports this conflict, and we need to be sure that civilians can keep life going when the mines get pinched.

Time sensitive action item toward regulating conflict minerals:

Industry groups including the US Chamber of Commerce are strongly opposed to passing laws that regulate conflict minerals. Not to be outdone, there was a provision attached to the Senate Financial Overhaul Bill, passed on May 20: it requires any publicly traded company that uses listed minerals such as tantalum, tungsten, tin, or gold to file reports annually with the Securities and Exchange Commission certifying whether the minerals originated in Congo or neighboring countries.

The House Financial Services Committee will be discussing the House resolution for this bill for two more weeks. So far, the provision stands. Please call (by priority) the committee office, Barney Frank, and the individual members of this committee and tell them to keep this regulation in their version of the bill. If you have no choice but to email, you can link to the members' webpages through the HFSC webpage linked above.




Understand that the effort to regulate conflict minerals in the United States is bipartisan. The biggest obstacle is that senators and representatives do not know much about it, and they don't understand its urgency or how it matters. Please call your Representative and Senators and tell them why conflict mineral regulation is so important. Get their aids on the phone and talk. Email is good, but a phone call is better.


Another important step is to learn about microcredit programs, and support them if you can; Half the Sky Movement has a primer that includes information about how to know that your aid gets properly used.

HEAL Africa's microgrant program is fairly new, and it's booming -- and it distributes grants worth about $50 per. A person starts a business on one grant, and when it gets repaid, the principle gets passed on to another person who starts a business. These grants are absolutely necessary if we are going to regulate conflict minerals. This is building an economy that is separate from mining -- it keeps life going, and is essential to ending the war.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Your cellphone is killing people: Regulate conflict minerals in the DRC

In 1994, a Hutu paramilitary organization called the Interahamwe perpetrated a mass genocide in Rwanda against another ethnic group, the Tutsi. In response, the Rwandese Patriotic Front eventually drove the Interahamwe, their supporters, and the Hutu who feared retaliation from Rwanda into nearby countries: over two million people crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Interahamwe remain in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. They now call themselves the Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda, or the FDLR. They compete with other groups to control the Coltan mines in the DRC, but they set the bloody standard for terrorism in the neighborhood.

The violence connected with these mines is absolutely monstrous. The militias use terrorism to intimidate the people, and the most brutal are the ones who gain control of the ore that comes from the mines. But the weapons of terror are not car bombs or explosive devices. They use public torture and rape to intimidate the Congolese people. Nicholas Kristof recently described the horrible conditions that result in his columns The World Capital of Killing, and From "Oprah" to Building Sisterhood in Congo.

More than two hundred thousand Congolese women and children have been raped and mutilated, often in front of their families or in front of the whole village -- and this has been going on for years. Among the stories that the UN reported in 2005, paramilitary men grilled villagers' bodies on a spit and boiled two girls alive in front of their mother. More often they gang rape a woman, penetrating her with weapons and mutilating her. Sometimes they use machetes or guns, and they are reported to set her on fire, as well. Those who survive are often left entirely incontinent because they suffer from traumatic gynecologic fistula -- destruction of the tissue between the vagina, bladder, and bowels. The UN reports tens of thousands of these rapes per year. There is an increasing number of men who suffer this fate, as well.

Jeanette and her husband were farmers when the Interahamwe stormed into their village and burned it to the ground. They raped and tortured her, cut off both of her hands, and left her for dead. They raped another woman in the village who was pregnant, penetrated her with a rifle, and shot her.

The Interahamwe killed Generose's husband, hacked off her leg with a machete, and cooked it in front of her family on their kitchen fire. When her 12-year-old son refused to eat it, they killed him.

The violence continues, and stories like these play out daily in eastern DRC. The causes for the conflict in the DRC are complicated, but one thing is simple: the suffering continues because of the mines. Militias directly control the region's coltan and tin production. At the end of 2007, the International Rescue Committee estimated that nearly 5.5 million people had died, and that number continues to rise.





I want to draw your attention to coltan, which is the ore that contains tantalum. From an engineering perspective, tantalum is a sweetheart metal. It has ideal mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties. It can be heated to very high temperatures, it is stable in corrosive environments, and it machines well. It also maintains these properties after heating; tungsten, for example, becomes extremely brittle and fragile once it's heated, which is why incandescent light bulb filaments break so easily. This is not so with tantalum, which can be re-machined after heating to high temperatures. Alloys of tantalum behave nicely, as well.

The video refers to widespread use of tantalum capacitors, but because of its favorable properties tantalum is commonly used in industry. Camera lenses are made with tantalum oxide. Tantalum metal is ideal for making surgical implants and instruments -- it even bonds with hard tissue better than other metals. Its ductility and suppleness make it the metal of choice for fine wires and long-lasting filaments, and its alloys are used in jet engines, missiles, and process equipment for engineering across the board. Our technology makes us dependant on this precious metal.

We can take steps to regulate tantalum and other conflict metals, much like the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone. Roughly 25% of the tantalum ore currently produced comes from the DRC and surrounding areas:



What can you do without leaving your chair?


-- There are currently two bills that seek to regulate conflict metals: S.891, The Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009, and HR 4128, The Conflict Minerals and Trade Act. Make sure your Senators and Representatives understand that this issue is dire, and that they support the bills and their future incarnations, if necessary.

-- Learn more. Start by looking at a slideshow about a Congolese tin mine from NYT, or Youtube Taking On Conflict Minerals. The EcoJustice team frequently posts about Africa in the weekly series on Monday nights (10:00p Eastern). See the tag EcoJustice Africa.

-- Donate to help HEAL Africa build a new hospital, contribute to their microcredit program, or other community projects.

-- Write to the companies that make your electronic devices, and encourage them to boycott blood minerals, sign the Conflict Minerals Pledge and offer certification that their products are blood mineral-free.

-- Work with advocacy groups like Enough, and Raise Hope for Congo.

** Jeanette and Generose's stories are told by Women for Women International, another organization that is doing fine work to support war survivors in the DRC. Read about Jeanette in The Other Side of War by Zainab Salbi; Nicholas Kristof tells Generose's story in the links provided.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Silence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

KuangSi2Meet Jeanne Muliri Kabekatyo, known as "Mama Muliri" to her friends and colleagues. This brilliant woman pioneered the Heal My People program at HEAL Africa, a Congolese relief organization centered in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. She is visiting the United States and telling the story of how HEAL Africa is changing the face of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is without a doubt one of the more inspiring people I know.

Mama Muliri directs HEAL Africa's program Gender and Justice, which is a strategic, long term response to gender-based violence. She is the ultimate community organizer, bringing together leaders from area villages, faith-based organizations, and relief workers, and the women of the DRC to affect positive change in a lasting way. They will create a new future.


HEAL Africa began as a small clinic, but it was destroyed when Mount Nyiragongo erupted in 2002. They've since rebuilt, and are now a teaching hospital with a state of the art surgical center, specializing in traumatic gynecologic fistulae.
These injuries commonly result from the brutal rapes that happen because of the war. Women are attacked and raped sometimes by groups of twenty or more men. These men penetrate them with weapons and sometimes shoot, burn, or mutilate and then leave them for dead. HEAL Africa's hospital was designed to treat their wounds.

But when the hospital opened, the doctors couldn't find many rape victims. Only women who were dying of infection or gravely injured would come. HEAL Africa had an empty treatment facility in the middle of what is arguably the worst systematic, gender-based violence on Earth today.

The Democratic Republic of Congo lives a culture of silence. By the old ways, a woman who is raped is shunned by her family and cast out of her community. She has no worth in the world, and is utterly destroyed by the crime. If it happens and she can keep it secret, she will suffer in silence. This is why HEAL Africa and Mama Muliri are so important. The women don't easily trust, because the risk to their future is so great. Why should a woman go to a hospital for treatment when it means that she must break her silence?

Mama Muliri knew that the hospital would not be a safe place for the women who needed treatment unless the culture of silence was broken. To accomplish this change, she had to engage the men -- so she and her colleagues went to the religious leaders and convinced them to teach their people about the culture of silence and why it was wrong.

Then she and her colleagues went to the leaders in the villages and taught them how their ways conflicted with the law, and convinced them that their traditions regarding rape had to change. This tactic was hugely successful, and the villages began to comply with the law. The villages started to support the rape victims, and HEAL Africa trained village women in crisis counseling to help rape victims get the care they need. From this work came the Nehemiah Committees made up of Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and indigenous church and village leaders:


These initiatives took the name of “Nehemiah Committees”. In 2004, the first three committees were established, today there are more than 65 throughout rural villages in the surrounding region of Goma.
...
The name for the program derives from the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, where a community is mobilized to rebuild the walls of their destroyed city. Nehemiah Committees are locally selected by community members and represent all faiths and tribes in the community. The various faith communities...are at the heart of the work and the focus of the training.


The women in these villages now have a safe place to break their silence.

But what would become of the women after their treatment? If they went back to their villages as victims, the culture of silence would persist. Mama Muliri thought that calling them survivors wouldn't work, either, as it did nothing to remove the stigma of being raped, and it was not a lot different than saying the women were victims. She and HEAL Africa started a vocational training program to give the women skills that their village depended on -- and she called the graduates Strong Women in the Community.

It didn't make sense, though, to allow only rape victims to be the Strong Women. First, a women who had not suffered a rape needed vocational training, too -- and second, creating Strong Women in a way that was independent of their trauma history helped to remove the stigma attached to the rape. Their rape wouldn't define them in their community. HEAL Africa opened their training program to all women, and gave birth to their Women Stand Up Together program.

Women Stand Up Together has a network of safe houses where women receive support in crisis, training, and resources they need. The village counselors can go to the safe houses to learn new skills, and the women can network to build a sustainable future for the DRC.

The safe houses also provide a way to administer or acquire urgent and preventive care for rape victims:

Village counselors also know to refer to local medical clinics for infections, sexually transmitted diseases, or Post Exposure Prophyllaxis (PEP for HIV will dramatically reduce transmission of HIV if administered within 72 hours of a rape. Most villagers don’t know this, and it’s not available in many clinics out of the city.) HEAL Africa has been working with 67 rural clinics to provide training and medicine, and through the counselor networks to inform women and girls of the urgency of getting treatment quickly.


Women Stand Up Together started with 4 safe houses; they now have 28, and they are making an enormous impact on the quality of life and status for women they serve. HEAL Africa also has a fledgling microcredit program that is about six months old. They've already paid back their principle and interest, and are using the profit that microcredit brings to provide more loans to women who want to start businesses.

And this is what sets HEAL Africa apart from other relief organizations working in the DRC. HEAL Africa is founded and led by Congolese people, so it can build itself and grow through community organization. Foreign relief agencies are helping tremendously in the DRC, but they are centrally located and cannot reach the villages with community networks like HEAL Africa. And they cannot build a lasting peace -- only the people of the DRC can create a peaceful future for their country.

KuangSi2This is Marta, and she wants us to hear her story. She was badly injured when she was raped and burned, and she made her way to the HEAL Africa hospital through the community networks described here. She was a resident at HEAL Africa's Grounds For Hope shelter that houses women who need time to heal because of their extensive injuries. To date, she has had five reconstructive surgeries to help her close her eye lids and regain balanced use of her arms.

She told her story to Ben Affleck in 2008 when he traveled to the DRC for ABC's Nightline -- her interview starts about 2:50 in this excerpt:



To date, HEAL Africa's surgical team has repaired about 2000 fistulae, traumatic and obstetric.

What can you do to help?

-- Donate to help HEAL Africa build a new hospital, contribute to their microcredit program, or other community projects.

-- Be aware that the tech industry is complicit in this conflict. The war is financed largely by a corrupt mining insustry. Learn more. Start by looking at a slideshow about a Congolese tin mine from NYT, or Youtube Taking On Conflict Minerals.

-- Write a letter to VP Joe Biden, and tell him that blood minerals support the horrific violence in The DRC.

-- Contact your senators. Your effort here will make an enormous impact toward advancing good legislation. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations does create policy regarding violence the DRC, tell them about the problem of blood minerals, and tell them that you want them to pass a law that regulates conflict metals.

-- Urgent Action!!! Ask your senators to support S.891, be sure to tell them that Pt-group metals might contribute to the conflict and be blood minerals, as well.

-- Contact your representative and ask him or her to support HR 4128, The Conflict Minerals and Trade Act.

-- Write to the companies that make your electronic devices, and encourage them to boycott blood minerals, sign the Conflict Minerals Pledge and offer certification that their products are blood mineral-free.

-- Work with advocacy groups like Enough, and Raise Hope for Congo.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Conflict Metals in the Democratic Republic of Congo

There is a brutal civil war taking place in The Democratic Republic of Congo -- where the government is not strong enough to do more than patronize the bloody militias that fight amongst themselves.

The DRC is rich in natural resources, in fact, many of the metals that are used in green technology are found there. Electrodes in your cell phones, components in your computer, your catalytic converter, and materials of the green economy are regularly mined in The Democratic Republic of Congo. You might find electronic devices that funded this conflict in your pocket right now.

It is clear that the minerals mined in the DRC are what provide the motivation and funding for this war. We need to work toward a regulating blood minerals that come from The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nicholas Kristof recently described the horrible conditions in his columns The World Capital of Killing, and From "Oprah" to Building Sisterhood in Congo.

There is a fledgling movement in congress to regulate consumption of blood minerals in the United States. The Senate has come a little further than The House in terms of embracing this issue, but we need to raise awareness in both houses.

There are many metals found in The DRC that are the bread and butter of green technology and green research. The problem is that whatever the Congolese mines produce gets plundered by the local groups that fight one another. The mines in eastern Congo are controlled directly by the militias, but experts argue that the entire metal trade in the DRC is complicit in this conflict.

Advocacy groups concentrate on "Three T" metals that come from the mines that are controlled by militias: Tantalum, Tin, and Tungsten. Gold is another conflict metal found the The DRC. It is very important to work toward a boycott of these metals if they come from illicit sources -- these are the main metals that fuel the egregious war there.

A few people in congress are interested in stopping the blood mineral trade:

“Blood diamonds,” the worldwide campaign to stop the sale of diamonds that fueled a bloody civil war (and the name of a better-than-average Hollywood film) is about to be replaced by conflict minerals, a two-word phrase every bit as catchy but even more difficult to regulate.

Not to mention legislate — a process that is now going on in earnest at the direction of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

But I hope this gets your attention, because the violence in The DRC is absolutely monstrous.

Systematic rape in the DRC is unprecedented. It is complicated, because the acts of violence span across ethnic groups, and rape is used in many contexts. It also differs from other systematic rape campaigns in recent European history: it is made fantastically complex by the fact that women have little status and the DRC tolerates rape during relatively peaceful times. In times of war, the government supports militia groups who are allowed to rape and pillage with no consequence.




There are many uses of rape in war. Sometimes women are used for gratification, or because of customs and superstition that sanction rape like in the video above. If it spans across ethnic groups, it is often used as weapon of torture, or for ethnic cleansing. Women are raped in front of their families, they are forced into pregnancies to "dilute" ethnic bloodlines, and they are kidnapped and kept for the wanton comfort of the bloody militias. But the violence between ethnic groups is not limited to rape. The Interahamwe militias particularly have a habit of mutilating women and leaving them to suffer a protracted and painful death.

The UN High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCHR) on the DRC:

The human rights situation in the DRC continues to deteriorate. Serious violations, such as arbitrary executions, rape, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are pervasive, committed mostly by the army, police and intelligence services. The latter, highly politicized, are often used to commit politically-motivated crimes during specific periods and then revert to daily harassment and intimidation of Congolese citizens. Armed groups operating in the country, both foreign and Congolese, although responsible for only six per cent of documented human rights abuses, have perpetrated massacres, arbitrary executions, abductions of villagers, and subjected women to systematic rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence with full impunity.



What's happening in congress now? There is a bill floating in the Senate, S.891, and another bill is currently under draft in the House. The Senators who are co-sponsering S.900 are: Samuel Brownback, Roger Wicker, Benjamin Cardin, Russell Feingold, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, Roland Burris, and Mark Begich.



What can you do without leaving your chair?

-- Write a letter to VP Joe Biden, and tell him that blood minerals support the horrific violence in The DRC.

-- Contact your senators and representative. Your effort here will make an enormous impact toward advancing good legislation. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations does create policy regarding violence the DRC, tell them about the problem of blood minerals, and tell them that you want them to pass a law that regulates conflict metals.

-- If your senator co-sponsored S.891, be sure to tell them that Pt-group metals from the DRC might be complicit blood minerals.

-- Write to the companies that make your electronic devices, and encourage them to boycott blood minerals, sign the Conflict Minerals Pledge and offer certification that their products are blood mineral-free.

-- Work with advocacy groups like Enough, and Raise Hope for Congo.

-- Work with a group that directly supports the women who are affected by the violence in the DRC such as HEAL Africa and Women for Women International.

-- Learn more. Start by looking at a slideshow about a Congolese tin mine from NYT, or Youtube Taking On Conflict Minerals.