Why You Matter

When I set out on my 30-mile run to raise money for women in Congo, I had no idea it would launch an international movement for Congo. I simply encouraged others to do their own Run for Congo Women and to urge the US government to support Congo. They did. Our government listened.

I’ve learned when we show up, even when we feel nervous, insecure, or out of our comfort zone, amazing things happen.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Little Rock resident Kathey Green emailed Senator Blanche Lincoln’s chief of staff regarding her lack of support for conflict minerals legislation. Following a personal exchange between the two of them and some facebook posts, Senator Lincoln supported the legislation.
  • In 2006, Run for Congo Women supporters urged their representatives to support Congo legislation—today, the last statement in the Congressional Record prior to the unanimous passing of the legislation talks about the role Run for Congo Women played in the process.
  • Congolese- American Francisca Thelin met with Oregon Senator Wyden’s staff, surrounded by Portland Run for Congo Women team members, directly leading to Wyden’s co-sponsorship of LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) legislation. (Francisca’s family has been deeply impacted by recent LRA violence.)
  • Through the A Thousand Sisters Facebook page, supporters’ direct calls and messages to members of congress helped pass the conflict minerals provision (sec. 1502) in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill.
  • And again, ATS supporters’ lobbying efforts got 21 republicans and democrats to sign a Dear Colleague letter to Secretary Clinton requesting a coordinated Congo Action Plan. The letter used language from A Thousand Sisters’ core platform and was delivered to Secretary Clinton in November 2010.
  • ATS activists protested for five days and nights in freezing temperatures outside the State Department; they were backed by hundreds of supporters posting photos on Facebook. In a rare move, the State Department invited the Outcry for Congo campaigners inside to discuss policy, and assured them that Secretary Clinton knew they were there.

Advocacy works. But only if we find the courage to act. A Thousand Sisters is here to help you find your power and your voice for Congo. Just like every new phase of this journey, it’s scary. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I didn’t wait for credentials or endorsements or anyone to say “go”. I stumbled through my first calls to congress. Now, I’ve seen and felt the power of showing up. I know you have that power too. Join us!


Lisa Shannon
Founder, A Thousand Sisters