Refuse to do Nothing: The Congo, Your Phone, and Child Slaves

Chapter 10: 

How can you eat, how can you drink,

How wear your finery, and ne’er think

Of those poor souls, in bondage held,

Whose painful labor is compelled?

Anonymous

Featuring a "Children and Trafficking" Expert Panel
Featuring a “Children and Trafficking” Expert Panel

This was perhaps one of the most difficult chapters in the book for me to read. It was difficult because it talks about the violence of trafficking as it relates to children, particularly child soldiers. It was also difficult because I was painfully aware that is some ways, I am a part of this trafficking problem. I like to purchase good quality products for cheap. To me, the only thing better than a cheap quality product, is a free one. As a consumer, this demand puts pressure on businesses and suppliers to make products at the lowest possible expense and that decision often includes (though not always intentionally) slavery.

Technology, Child Solider Education, & the Demand for Cheap

Our love for technology, principally in our cell phone dependent society, drives an ongoing fight for African minerals that are necessary to make these gadgets. Children are drafted to join this fight.

Young boys ages six, seven, eight years old [are] abducted from their families and given machine guns. These children soldiers are trained in brutal acts of rape and pillaging as a form of warfare…To support rebel forces in certain African countries that are rich in the resources used to make cell phones Millions of people have been slaughtered, raped and displaced in conflicts over the mining of these minerals (106).

“The minerals used to make cell phones are located predominantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…and the conflict in the DRC was sparked by Rwandan genocide and Rwanda’s subsequent invasion of DR Congo in 1996 and 1998. More than 5.4 million people have died as a result of mass murder, famine and disease born of the chaos, making it more deadly than World War II (106).”

There is Hope

Check out some of the resources below to see the work of Christian organizations like the International Justice Mission and World Vision. The Bridgeway Foundation also seeks to be a “catalyst for hope and reconciliation throughout the world (113).” The Invisible Children “works to raise awareness of the violent realities in the region where the LRA [see below] is active, raises funds for on-the-ground projects that protect the Congolese people, and supports local Congolese people in the bringing justice, healing and hope to their communities (114).”

“Creating a system of transparency is a big factor in reducing violence and abolishing slavery in DR Congo. In 2010 the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act was an initial effort by the U.S. government to trace conflict minerals, reform supply chains and develop auditing protocols (111).” There are some advocates that are more interested in addressing the slavery issue through politics and policy. If this is your interest, it is important to understand the human trafficking legislation that is on the books and new legislation that is being brought to the floor in the House and Senate. Then take that education and share with others so we can vote properly and notify our representatives concerning the issues that are important to us.

Recommended:

Read:

1. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza

2. The Introduction of The Locust Effect gives a chilling account of the Rwanda genocide.

3. Andy Crouch’s book, Playing God, gives hopeful accounts of the healing and redemption offered to child soldiers through World Vision

Watch:

1. Hotel Rwanda

2. Call+Response Documentary

Search, Pray, & Take Action:

1. “Raise Hope for the Congo, a campaign of the Enough Project that aims to build a group of supporters who will advocate for the citizens of DR Congo and work towards ending violence in the eastern part of the country (112).” www.raisehopeforcongo.org

2. According to this chapter, “the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and Mai Mai are some of the worst perpetrators of sexual violence against women and children in history…The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is of particular concern. They don’t claim to fight for anything but simply exist to terrorize. Joseph Kony is the self-appointed leader and has abducted thousands of children to fight in his army beginning in 1987 (112-113).” I encourage you to search YouTube or Google for “Kony Child Soldiers.” Child soldiers is not only a problem in Africa. Several terrorist organizations in Asia, Burma, India, Philippines, Thailand, Columbia, and the Middle East also use child soldiers. This is a spiritual battle that needs much prayer.

3. Support the Invisible Children’s efforts

4. Visit http://www.freetheslaves.net to learn more.

The road to peace and justice has never been as easy one. Patience, perseverance and unwavering determination to bring freedom to all people is the mindset we need. Freedom comes only when people refuse to do nothing and get to work…there is something each of us can do (118).

Reflect: “Put yourself in the place of a mother of a child soldier. What would you want (118)?”

Blessings, © Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014

Refuse to Do Nothing Book Discussion

Chapter 1: The issue of Human Trafficking

Chapter 2: We’ve Done This Before

Chapter 3: So you want to be an activist?

Chapter 4: Take Action #HumanTrafficking

Chapter 5: Be Brave, No Excuses

Chapter 6: Stop the Violence

Chapter 7: Not in My Backyard

Chapter 8: Sex for Money

Chapter 9: Be the Nosy Neighbor

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