“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I think about the wisdom nestled into this African proverb.
I look at this photo of women living across the globe who fight cultural oppression and opposition to farm coffee beans to provide for themselves and their family, and I remember. I remember that we were never made to do it alone.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is this: To love God, and to love our neighbors.
Love. God. Others.
This seemingly simple statement changes everything.
Our hearts. Our families. Our neighborhoods. Our world.
I think about the mothers around the world, doing the holy work of parenting and emotionally and physically providing for their families.
About the universal truths of motherhood, as well as the experiences and struggles that I honestly can’t begin to fathom.
Later this month, my friend Britt, a fellow busy mama of little ones, is joining a team of runners to participate in the first-ever Run Across Congo, supporting, celebrating, and empowering women and mothers in farming communities.
“The Congo means so much to me because my son is Congolese. Kai came into our family through adoption two years ago. (I’m an advocate for family preservation and adoption should always be the last resort). What a better way to fight for family preservation then through advocating and raising funds and awareness for women to have sustainable incomes?” Britt says. “I want to do something help the people of Congo develop sustainable jobs and make positive changes in their communities so families can stay together. This also helps children stay with their families, which creates less orphans.”
I first connected with Britt because her son Kai has sickle cell anemia — just like our son Joseph. Her beautiful family (Surfers! Can you tell?) also opens their home through foster care. They’re truly living out the Kingdom of God, and it’s beautiful.
“We are running for women in the Congo — mothers and widows — who are all raising families and hoping for a bright future through a sustainable job such as coffee farming, ” Britt says.
The Run Across Congo, a 7-marathon, 7-day expedition, will raise awareness and funds for the inspiring female coffee farmers, farming families, and cooperatives working toward gender equality in the region. Britt is running the Great Lakes region of Africa for 185 miles, visiting villages and farming communities with organizing partners, On The Ground and Twin, which have existing relationships with coffee cooperatives and local officials.
“Running is a great way to advocate for any cause — it gets your attention. I’m running this distance because the people of DRCongo mean so much to me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to raise awareness and funds for these women farmers to start up a sustainable business for themselves and for their families,” Britt says. “DRCongo is a war-torn country and is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. A lot of these women are raising children alone. With a sustainable business such as coffee farming, they can feed their families, send their children to school, and pay for medical care.”
Awareness and funds raised from Run Across Congo will have several long-term impacts, including gender equality and women’s empowerment programs, creating access to knowledge, land and income beyond coffee. Funds will be used to empower and educate female farmers to run their own lives and businesses and create a brighter future for coffee communities affected by civil war in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Funds will go three places:
- To women coffee farmers. “The funds we raise will go to purchase coffee trees, land use, and advocacy in country. The DRC is very gender biased when it comes to purchasing from women. Women selling coffee beans for instance at the market are passed over. We will be working with our partner organization in the Congo called Twin, who will help with the advocacy part on the ground in Congo,” Britt says.
- To the purchase of sewing machines for widows of soldiers who protect Virunga National Park. You can find the documentary Virunga on Netflix. “Rebel groups often poachers come into the park and poach endangered mountain gorillas. Oil companies have their eye on one of Congos most precious resources,” Britt says. “These soldiers risk their lives to protect this land. These soldiers killed leave behind families.”
- To a hospital. “Lastly, we’re funding the expansion of a hospital where women and children walk for up to four days come and seek care for sexual abuse. Congo has the highest amount of rape then anywhere in the world,” Britt says.
For Mother’s Day, we have a chance to enter into this opportunity to provide mercy, compassion, and empowerment to mothers and families around the world. It’s a privilege and honor and joy to loving one another, and this is an incredible opportunity to love in a very tangible way.
Please consider joining me to support Run Across Congo, and pray for Britt, and all the women she is running for.
“The Congo became part of our family forever,” Britt says. “I’m running for family.”