To shift the market in a socially responsible direction, consumers must demand conflict free electronics. The main blockage preventing public outcry against this horrifying rape culture is that most people are still unaware of the devastating impacts that the mining industry has had on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, if corporations clean up their supply chain by integrating conflict free certified minerals, the DRC would benefit from their resource rich land.
Three students from Champlain College, Samantha Segalas-Shaw (pictured above), Laura O'Reilly, and Caroline Garretson, chose to bring the spirit of ibutwa to the Auckland University of Technology while studying abroad in New Zealand. They worked in groups to raise awareness about the complex conflict mineral issue in two separate classes about culture and society. Seeing that wealthy societies have advanced with the use of technology, these brave women invited students to take action by contributing to the #ConflictFreeSociety movement.
Samantha was explaining Ibutwa's holistic approach that uplifts families who have been victimized by rebel groups in the DRC. To improve the health of survivors of rape and or genital mutilation, transportation and medical costs are covered for recipients. Some children also receive medical treatment for illnesses that are often caused from malnutrition and poor living standards. The second program funds women to cultivate sustainable livelihood opportunities. Most women choose to contribute to the community garden which provides food and an income for families. Organic gardening is a great activity that brings people together while combatting food scarcity. There are women who have chosen other paths such as baking, sewing, jewelry making, etc. The goal of this project is for women to start successful bottom up initiatives so they grow independent of Ibutwa's financial assistance through the microfinance investment. The third program is education for children who were born from incidents of rape. When the youth is educated, there is a much lower chance of them joining rebel groups. They are surrounded by mentors who want the best for them. We believe these children will soon become great leaders of an improved DRC. Knowledge is power!
After informing students about this insidious issue, Samantha displayed one of her art pieces that connects the bloodshed from genital mutilation to our smart phones. It is uncomfortable to realize but a vast majority of our electronics are rooted in this problem. To begin reversing the damages that have ruined countless lives and ecosystems, demand conflict free goods and services. As a consumer, you have the power and influence to change this circumstance. Be the change, buy the change.
I encourage you to make art about the discord that is happening world wide. Art therapy is a wonderful release when combating a problem this overarching and triggering.
Ibutwa translates to RENAISSANCE or rebith! In this digital age, it is easy to join the #ConflictFreeSociety movement. You can start a conflict free campaign in your community, share information online or donate to this amazing 501c3 nonprofit organization. I feel as though the more people talk about sexual violence and consent, there are higher chances that these incidents will stop happening. By ignoring the subject entirely, people are falling victim to this cycle, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Any artistic contributions that raise awareness about the conflict mineral crisis are appreciated and will be posted on our Activism Art page. Please feel free to share these images on your social media accounts or in presentations to stand in solidarity with survivors of abuse. Raise your voice, make art your alliance and change the world one heart at a time.
$100 will help support VIBI's sustainable livelihood program
$150 will cover the full cost of sending a child to school for a year; tuition, books, supplies, uniform & staff support for the family
$300 will help fund phone communication between VT and DR Congo
$500- $1,000 will support medical care for women & their children
$1,000+ will support our full program- medical treatment, community support, access to education & sustainable livelihood projects