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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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Birthday Party turned Benefit for HEAL Africa

Cassie Kirby

I became involved with the cause of the Congolese people about five years ago after watching a special dedicated to them on CNN. I could not believe what was going on in the DRC; the violence, rape, and poverty were at a level I had never witnessed before and I knew instantly, that this was a journey I must take - I could not turn the other cheek. In most circumstances, people want to do something to help, but no one knows quite what to do, and that was the position I found myself in. I began by researching the history, war, people, and organizations of the Congo, and finally found the one I wanted to assist and affiliate myself with: HEAL Africa.

HEAL Africa appealed to me because it was an all-encompassing effort led for the Congolese people by the Congolese people. There weren’t particular religious or political associations controlling it; this was a grass-roots effort to not only HEAL the community, but one that was consciously working to improve it and educating others for prevention.

I decided on a ladies luncheon and silent auction during the summer time to start raising awareness and monies for the program. First step, set a goal. Second step, put it in motion. I called upon local people and businesses that my friends, family, and I used to donate items and services for the silent auction. It was a team effort, everyone was involved. My daughter and sister-in-law did paintings for the auction, my niece made jewelry, my yoga teacher donated lessons, my friends gave some of their season tickets for football games, my mother and grandmother made the food, we borrowed tables and chairs from neighbors, I used my own china and dishes. We did a power point presentation with pictures and statistics from the DRC set to music to introduce others to the magnitude of the conflict. Getting creative really helped spread the word and kept my overhead low.

That was year one, and over that past four years, the tradition has continued to spread in many different ways each year. I have given additional luncheons with silent auctions, transformed birthday parties into fundraising opportunities, and even have run a half-marathon to raise money. Opportunities lie everywhere within our reach if we have the courage to seize them. Even though we are advocating and raising awareness to fight a sexual violence epidemic that couldn't be more serious, it is key to continually diversify, keep it interesting, new, and fun. Like the survivors at the HEAL Africa hospital, we have to have an unquenchable spirit to continue the work that must be done to end the violence and bring peace to the Congolese people.

As a person that didn't know where to begin a few short years ago, believe me, that all you have to do is begin, to make a difference. We have raised over twenty thousand dollars for the fight against sexual violence and educated countless people. Third step, imagine the possibilities.

With love and hope for peace always,


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