Jewish Journal

Bearing Witness

by Jewish World Watch

May 27, 2014 | 11:04 am

JWW delegates at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, May 2014

The following writers are traveling with Jewish World Watch (JWW), a leading organization in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities worldwide. JWW's work is currently focused on the crises in Sudan and Congo.  Six delegates traveled to Congo's eastern provinces to work with survivors of the country’s decades-long conflict, which has claimed nearly six millions lives. They will meet with JWW's partners on the ground, with whom JWW works to create innovative programs and projects that change lives and transform communities. To learn more, please visit: jewishworldwatch.org

"A Much Anticipated Voage" -- Ada Horwich

It’s a few days before I leave for a much anticipated voyage. Although I have experienced a great deal for a West Los Angeles woman – Peace Corps in the 60s, social worker in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and Ethiopia, India and the former Soviet Union – I know this trip to Congo and Rwanda will be like no other. Genocide has been experienced by my people, the Jews, in the 30s and 40s. As a Jew I am drawn to understand, and perhaps help, other victims of such unexplained and unfathomable cruelty.

I want to know.
I want those who know me to learn.
I want my children and grandchildren never to forget.

"First Generation" -- Irvin Kintaudi

I am ecstatic to be going to Africa with Jewish World Watch as a representative of the Dillon Henry Foundation. My family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which provided me with a household to be raised under Congolese traditions and customs as a first-generation African in America.

Our background originates from the Bakongo tribe in the city of Kinshasa where my mother lived with her nine brothers and sisters. She attended the International Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the city of Kimwenza.

After a childhood of growing up in a village, my mother was only 18 years old when she emigrated from the city of Kinshasa in the DRC, formerly known as Zaire under the dictatorship of President Mobutu Sese Seko (in power from ’65-’97).  Earning doctoral scholarships to a variety of medical schools throughout Europe and Asia, my mother ultimately decided to attend the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania. She lived in Romania as a doctor for 10 years before migrating to the United States.

This trip will be a cultural shock and an eye-opening experience for me because of this being my first time traveling to Africa let alone the DRC. I am very fortunate and grateful to be granted this opportunity to work with certified philanthropists that are dedicated to ending mass genocide. I cannot wait to step foot on African soil and be united with the homeland that has produced my relatives that are presently alive and also those who have passed away. From voyaging through the Congo visiting different hospital and medical sites to journeying through Rwanda where we will be able to meet with distinguished doctors and survivors of the Rwandan genocide, I am ready to embrace everything that lies ahead of us. I am so eager to go back home for the very first time, and I thank Jewish World Watch and the Dillon Henry Foundation for allowing me to be a part of this battle to end world violence and continue the journey to creating world peace.

"Instrument of Change" --Terri Smooke

Friends and even my family are incredulous. They ask me, “WHY are you going there?”  And they ask, “Why are you going THERE?”
This trip to Rwanda and Congo I am embarking upon makes so much sense to me.  As a child I was exposed to the horrors of the Holocaust, as a young adult I learned to care, as an adult I have been tasked to do something about atrocities of genocide, violence against the innocent and other horrors of human abuse. Tikun olam, the Jewish ideal, admonishes us to repair the world in which we live. This Jewish value informs what I do. It is also the driving force of Jewish World Watch.

WHY am I going THERE?  I go to Congo for the same reasons I traveled to Russia, India, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Cuba and other places. I travel to bear witness – to experience, to see for myself, to listen and learn about things that are beyond comprehension. When I return to Los Angeles, my role will be that of the story teller so that more of us who are so fortunate in our own lives will hear about Congo. We can be instruments of change.

How do I feel about this coming experience?  I am a bit nervous, exhilarated with possibilities, humbled by the magnitude of the challenges faced by people in Congo and hopeful that we can all make a positive difference. I am grateful to Jewish World Watch for its ground-breaking work and for making this life changing trip possible.

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Jewish World Watch (JWW) is one of the largest grassroots anti-genocide organizations in the world. Since its founding in 2004, JWW has mobilized communities to breathe life...

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