Christina Mitchell's Reviews > A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman

A Thousand Sisters by Lisa J. Shannon
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Oct 23, 2011

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Read from October 23 to 30, 2011

I have difficulty reading memoirs of Western women experiencing the reality of violence in the global South. I have no right to say this, mind you. I am a Western woman...a white woman on top of that. I tread lightly in what I am about to say, mainly because I know that I could be labeled a hypocrite. With that danger in mind, I will proceed to trumpet the efforts and determination of Congolese women. I have been to the eastern Kivu provinces and while I learned much, what I learned most of all is that Western women need to stop depicting Congolese women as victims. Shannon's account does bring out the strength of women...but not the strength that shows that Congolese women are organized, they do fight against what is happening, they do rescue each other, they are capable of running NGO's, hospitals, schools, food pantries...all without manipulating and asking for money in a constant stream as Shannon writes. I want to scream at the top of my lungs to Eve Ensler, Alice Walker, and others to STOP!!!!!!! Congolese women have always been politically active and committedly strong throughout the country's long history of adversity. There are AMAZING grassroots women's organizations that are struggling to compete with Shannon, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, and other Western-run, international orgs for money. The DRC is the country of the Congolese...they insist they have the knowledge and the ability to stop the war and rebuild. That is the story I want to hear. I want to hear about the Congolese women in Portland, Oregon (THEY ARE THERE, I HAVE SPOKEN WITH THEM, THEY HAVE ORGANIZED TO HELP THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY BACK HOME), who have organized to run a marathon to send money to the DRC - not Shannon. Strangely, Congolese organizations in the U.S. are never heard from. Perplexing to say the least.
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message 1: by Wendy (new) - added it

Wendy Vella Well said!!! your review is absolutely amazing and so true. I am an emigrant woman as as much as i have never been through what the congolese women have gone through, i agree with you about victimizing them etc, it should be about empowering them and assisting on the fight they are already fighting, she is no rescuer, i dislike the kinds of memoirs that get written about this like this as if those women had no clue about what to do with their lives etc, i will not be reading the book, i would be insulted, thank you!!

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