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My First Step into Peace Work

13 December 2011 No Comment

Kirthi Jayakumar

Kirthi Jayakumar

“Why NOT Congo? I put the human in me first to reach out to the human there in distress. I put the woman in me first to reach out to the woman there in trouble.”


Four months ago, I chanced upon a tweet from Women in War Zones that in the days to come would change my perception of life.

It read, “Hey guys! We’re recruiting design and creative interns! About to launch an exciting new season!”

I was intrigued. Here’s an organization dealing with the two things I’m most passionate about: women’s rights, in war zones. I decided to jump in, and enthusiastically sent out an email. In about an hour’s time of my email, I heard back.

Welcome, they said. We have these many opportunities, so do apply for the one you’d most like to work on.

I wrote back with my resume, two writing samples, (because I wanted to write for Women in War Zones), and then waited with bated breath and crossed fingers. Then I had the interview via Skype. And then, the rest is history.

I started off with blog posts about women in war zones globally, and then began writing about women in Congo and their plight. And with each post I shed tears as I spoke of the tales of some women; I fought verbally when I asked people to join up; I criticized in the hope of goading people into action; I prayed fervently for a tiny light at the end of the tunnel; I joined thousands of women in Congo as they hoped for change. I began to grow into a better person, even if I say so myself.

Four months later, I have learned to be a better person. I have learned not to take the little simple things in my life for granted. I come from a country that figures in the top five on the list of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, but I’m one of the few in a luckier segment of society, and I want to reach out to people who are not.

Kirthi at work

Many people would ask me: Why Congo?

You’re Indian, no? Why don’t you do something for the Indians around you? Some would chastise me, some would wonder if I was off my rocker. Some others thought I was completely nihilistic in failing to do something for Indian women closer to home.

I have just one response. Why NOT Congo? I put the human in me first to reach out to the human there in distress. I put the woman in me first to reach out to the woman there in trouble. I put the heart in me first to reach out to the heart out there, beating in hope for a better future. Women exist and hearts beat all over the world. No doubts, no denials. But the why not outweighs the whys. Why NOT the Democratic Republic of Congo, when the whole world has ignored its plight? Why NOT DRCongo when it should have been seen all the time? A state where women have been raped, sexually assaulted, and left bereft of a life. The women are left with a million pieces scattered all over, and all they can do is to find them, one by one, and pick them back up. But for most women this was, and is, terribly difficult. Where can they find the resilience to evolve from the ashes? Stigma leaves them pockmarked. Families spurn them for no fault of theirs. Who can they go to?

What Women in War Zones is, is nothing short of a godsend. Combining the prowess, talents, and acumen of people all over the world to reach out to women in Congo, here’s an organization that doesn’t just deem the women their “beneficiaries.” Here’s an organization that lets these women talk, and tells the world their tale. Here’s an organization that cannot just help these women now, but empowers them for a future that is going to be, without doubt, BRIGHT. Here’s an organization that finds peace amongst the ashes, and helps these women rise and bloom like phoenixes. I’m grateful, really, for having been able to work with WiWZ, in whatever little capacity I could.

The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.

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