Friday, October 15

The Congo

Let me introduce you to Cara. I met her years ago. We hit it off. She made me laugh. She cheered me up. She made my life better. Just by knowing her. Cara is one of those ladies who is just...good. She's kind, and sweet, and compassionate. She focuses her love and attention of everybody else. Particularly children. Any child. Every child. I can only think of one fault, and it's a biggie. She lives in Calgary. I have nothing against Calgary, other than it's too damn far away from me. I miss my friend.

Cara and her husband, Alistair, have three children. The first two are close together in age. Shockingly close. They are blond hair, blue eyed beauties. Full of laughter and fun and mischief. Her third child currently resides in the Congo. Adoption is a long, and heartbreaking, and excruciating, and expensive process. Cara can practically feel this baby in her arms...yet he is still way too far away.

The Congo is a Hell on Earth. Especially for children. It no longer matters who is fighting, and why they are fighting. The focus is (or should be) on how they are fighting. Rape has become a weapon. The raping of women, of girls, and of babies. Both male and female babies.

The raping of women is used to instill fear. And pain. And shame. It is used as a method of control. As violence. As a means to dehumanize the civilians. The raping of children and babies is cruel, unforgivable, sinful.

When Life's pressures overwhelm me, I always say to myself "There is a woman my age in the Congo would give her eye teeth to swap positions with me". Because my babies are safe. Are clean. Are fed. Are happy. My babies have never had to hide at night. My babies have never had to watch their mother being beaten and raped and humiliated. My babies have never had to starve. Because they were blessed enough to be born white, middle class, and in Canada. And that is the only thing that differentiates them from children in the Congo.

Cara's child is in the midst of all this horror. She longs to have her baby home. Safe at night. Belly full. And tucked into his little bed. There are a lot of obstacles. And delays. Her heart often takes a beating. And she carries on. Taking care of her older children. Hoping that her baby will soon be home.

What frustrates me is the cost involved. Here is a beautiful, happy family who has reached out their arms and opened their home to a baby whose life would otherwise be short and bleak. They are eager to accept him, to love him, to enroll him in Gymboree and other fun activities. They will help him with his homework, ensure that he gets a good education, and pay for him to go to university. They will take him to the doctor's, hold him close when he's sick, and cuddle him when his heart has been broken. But Cara cannot afford the fees involved. I do not know of any family that could. The fees are enormous.

My friend, who has reached out to help a stranger in a strange land, is asking for our help. She is not asking for the thousands and thousands of dollars that she needs. She is asking that we look through a collection of eco-friendly products to see if there is anything we'd like. For ourselves. For others (especially as Christmas will soon be here!). In purchasing from this link, we will be helping a small child who, until now, has had very little reason to hope for a happy future.

If we can all help out a little, what a tremendous difference that would make!

Cara (or "Cams" as I will always think of you!), you are a good person and deserve good things. Your baby will come home. Soon, hopefully. Keep your head up. Hold onto your Faith in the goodness of others. Behind you stand countless friends, family and strangers, cheering you on. I'm there, too, with my pom poms in hand waiting breathlessly for an updated family picture. With all five of you in it!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for highlighting the struggle of my bestest friend on the planet (since grade 5). Everything you have said here is perfectly true and you've captured it so articulately.

She will have that baby in her arms soon.We are all rooting for you, team Stead!


amber said...

Thank you for posting. Adoption is a hard process going through it takes guts and energy and a heart that can take more then its fair share of abuse. Stead family you are in my prayers. Cara I luv you and am so excited for you to hold your beautiful baby in your arms.

Gwen said...

Cara, with friends like Jenn and Amber, how could you possibly go wrong!

Bill Hunter said...

The Congo is a long way away and operates under a different legal system(if you could call it that) than we enjoy. Not only money for expenses will be necessay but a strong determination and will to get the child brought safely to Ottawa. Let's all help Cara with both!!

Anonymous said...

What happened to this child's natural mother? How did he lose her? Or the rest of his family? Did they abandon him? Has he been taken from them? If anyone knows who they are, are the Steads going to be able to stay in touch with them, even a little?

I think it is very sad when you have to lose forever the family you were born to, your ancestry, your language, in order to get medical care and education and a safe home. It is tragic that so many Congolese mothers cannot give those things to their babies, no matter how much love they have, and must suffer the heartbreak of losing their children on top of so many other heartbreaks.

This particular adoption may well be a blessing for this little boy, but I hope you will also be supporting charitable and political efforts to make life better in the DRC, so that children can grow up safe there too.

Gwen said...

Dad (Bill): Thanks for your support. You and I have talked about ways we can further support Cara. I am soooooo excited!

Anonymous: Because of this "Civil War" (although is similar in nature to Rwanda), people are being killed at an alarming rate. The UN said the conflict in the DRC is the worst since WWII. I agree with you completely, let's help Cara get her baby home, and let's not forget those who remain. Cara and I have been discussing some ideas. I hope you check back and see if we are making any progress!

Jeni said...

While you have some valid points.... that does not and certainly should NOT diminish what Cara and her family are doing for this ONE little child. ONE life is as important as the next.

Just as EVERY vote in an election counts, SO does the LOVE that Cara and her family are spreading for ONE child - it will grow through word of mouth into love (and, you can be sure, some dollars) for ALL the children of the Congo and their families. This is a GREAT place to start. And I am SURE it will not end with this one child.

Much, MUCH love and respect to the Steads!!!!!! xoxoxoxox …J