Can You Hear Me Now
February 4, 2009: Joel and Benji Madden, of Good Charlotte, spoke to students at American University with Enough's John Prendergast about the crisis in Congo and the illicit trade in the region's conflict minerals that fuels the conflict.
A few months ago, I met with John Prendergast, Co-Chair of the Enough Project to learn more about what's going on in the Congo. When he told me about what's happening in the Congo, how women are being targeted and how children are suffering, I just couldn't shake the sense that I should be doing something to help. As a dad, I can't imagine what it would feel like to wonder whether or not I was going to be able to feed my child or keep her safe. Yet this is what the women of Congo have to grapple with on a daily basis. After my meeting with John, I used my spare time to learn more about the Congo, and felt inspired to act.
While I was on tour with Good Charlotte over the summer, I wanted to do something to help raise awareness among the band's fans. I asked the Enough Project to come to our concert in Washington, DC so that more people could learn about their new campaign, RAISE Hope for Congo: Protect and Empower Congo's Women. I also asked John to get up on stage with me so that we could both encourage people to become advocates for Congolese women and girls. It was awesome that so many people listened and signed up for the campaign. I knew that I needed to do more, and decided to join the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign.
Later this fall, I'm traveling to the Central African Republic with UNICEF to learn about how conflict is affecting children in the region. When I get back, I'm going to do what I can to advocate, educate and raise funds in support of children affected by conflict. I'm also going to set up meetings with my Representative and Senators and urge them to support the International Violence Against Women Act, and to prioritize ending the conflict in eastern Congo. I'm also going to try to get as many people as possible to sign the petition to the president through MySpace and our website. The internet connects millions of people around the world--just imagine what we can do if we all join together to demand an end to the violence in the Congo!
So whether you're in a band, or going to college, or whether you're a parent who can empathize, there's no limit to how you can use your talents and your perspective to make a difference. A few minutes of your day is all it takes. I know that if we all work together to advocate for the Congo, we can help bring lasting peace to the Congo and its people.