Monday, March 19, 2012

A video that should go viral

PBS recently aired this video about HEAL Africa in Goma Congo.

Watch 'The Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman' on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Heal Africa operates what is widely considered the best hospital in Goma, and is one of the pioneers in the region in offering fistula surgeries to raped women.

But HEAL Africa is about more than that. It is about holistic programs and community empowerment. It is about finding solutions within the community.

Lyn Lusi, the co-founder of Heal Africa, died a few days ago and this is a great loss for the people of Goma. She's featured in this video, and you can see how humble she is.

One of my concerns about "awareness-raising" programs such as KONY 2012, is that they often over-emphasize their own effect in a region. In contrast, listen to the way Lyn talks. The organization she founded has had a profound impact in Eastern Congo and yet she says...

" I have no illusions that we're dealing with major issues that are pulling Congo apart.

There is so much evil and so much cruelty, so much selfishness, and it is like darkness. But if we can bring in some light, the darkness will not overcome the light, and that's where faith is, if you believe that.

I don't think HEAL Africa is going to empty the ocean, but we can take out a bucketful here and a bucketful there."

To me, these are the honest words of someone who has worked in the region for a long time, and who was aware of the complicated problems facing the region and who steered clear of easy solutions.

I admit the whole bucket thing is probably not as motivating as the highly amped up rhetoric behind a video like Kony 2012. But that is precisely my concern with such videos.

If we hear too often the simplified promises that we can wipe out the "world's worst criminal" right now with three easy steps, will we cease to hear the words of someone who calls us to empty the ocean by the bucketful?

As we've seen with the Arab Spring, yes Facebook can help mobilize change. And this is exciting. But the work never ends there, it stretches on for years to come.

Such work is rarely glamorous, and the solutions are never clear-cut. And unlike the Kony 2012 video which proclaims an expiration date of 2012, the call to this kind of work never expires. It will take our lifetimes.

Lyn Lusi worked in the middle of complex situation until her last breath, trying to carry a bucketful of water, and help others believe they can do the same. For that, along with countless people in Eastern Congo, I am deeply thankful.