PITTSBURGH, PA – 2009 CNN Hero Betty Makoni will visit Pittsburgh for a week of events dedicated to raising awareness of the child rape crisis in Africa. Makoni, a survivor of rape at age six and orphaned at age nine, has built four Girls Empowerment Villages in Zimbabwe. These employ a unique model that provides shelter, healing, and education to rape survivors. Makoni was recognized as a top ten CNN Hero in 2009 and is the recipient of awards from Amnesty International and the United Nations Red Ribbon program.
The week will begin with Makoni’s participation, from September 18 to 20, in a conference at the University of Pittsburgh entitled, “Silent No More: Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence.” Among the speakers will be Senator Sekai M. Holland, Zimbabwean Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister; Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer based in South Africa; and Dr. Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya, an honorary professor at Nelson Mandela Metro University.
Makoni will speak at a church, a high school, and at the University of Pittsburgh Ford Institute for Human Security on September 21. On Thursday, September 22, she is the guest of honor at a fundraiser and film screening featuring Tapestries of Hope. This award-winning one-hour documentary exposes the myth, widely held in Africa, that raping a virgin cures a man of HIV. The film also details Makoni’s struggles and triumphs in creating the Girl Child Network of shelters for abused girls in Zimbabwe.
During filming of Makoni’s work in Zimbabwe, filmmaker Risley and her aide were jailed but managed to flee the country with their film. Risley has testified on the child rape crisis before the United Nations, and in the spring of 2011 visited Pittsburgh for an appearance at the TED Awards at Carnegie Mellon University. Local interest in her film generated a grass-roots effort to bring it to the Hollywood Theater, an independent community theater in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.
Tickets for the event are $20 and include a “meet and greet” with Dr. Makoni at 6 p.m. with appetizers and music, the film screening at 7 p.m., and Q&A with Makoni afterward. Proceeds from the all-volunteer event go to the Girl Child Network.
Visit of CNN Hero Betty Makoni to Pittsburgh, September 18-23
ABOUT GIRL CHILD NETWORK
From the web site of IDEX (International Development Exchange)
Started as a network for girls at a few schools around Harare, GCN now serves over 60,000 girls through 700 official “Girls Clubs.” Girls learn about rape, incest, HIV/AIDS, prostitution, forced early marriage and other subjects of importance to the safety of adolescent girls in Zimbabwe.
GCN provides scholarships for 5,000 girls per year (covering the cost of school fees, uniforms, meals, books and other supplies). It also operates three “Empowerment Villages” (shelter and training centers for abused girls), and has a 24-hour emergency response program to assist victims of rape, abuse, and abandonment.
GCN has worked tirelessly and effectively to raise nationwide awareness of the needs of the girl child. The organization promotes justice and works to prevent impunity for rapists and perpetrators of violence.
Zimbabwe’s current economic and political turmoil has only intensified the challenges for girls. GCN continues its work through a satellite office in Botswana to conduct international advocacy and public outreach. Meanwhile, it continues to pay school fees for girls who are able to enroll in school.
Check out the IDEX blog to read more about what GCN does.
Visit of CNN Hero Betty Makoni to Pittsburgh, September 18-23
ABOUT TAPESTRIES OF HOPE
Tapestries of Hope is a feature-length documentary (74 min.) that reveals the story of human rights activist Betty Makoni and the Girl Child Network (GCN) in Zimbabwe, Africa. The documentary exposes the myth that raping a virgin cures a man of HIV/AIDS. The film is co-written and directed by award winning filmmaker, Michealene Cristini Risley, co-written and produced by Susan Black, and also produced by Christopher Bankston, Anand Chandrasekaran, and Ray Arthur Wang.
Plot Director Michealene Cristini Risley travelled to Zimbabwe to explore the rape and AIDS crisis in the country. She had previously befriended Betty Makoni, born and raised in Zimbabwe, and got to know about Makoni’s organization, the Girl Child Network. GCN aims to re-empower abused girls and provides them with shelter, healing, and education.
The story is told by the girls of Zimbabwe and Makoni, the film’s protagonist. Throughout the film, Makoni helps the girls to become re-empowered and find their voices. Part of healing process for girls is speaking out about the crimes committed against them. During filming Risley and her assistant were arrested and incarcerated. The film was also seized by the Zimbabwean Intelligence Office (C.I.O). However, the team managed to retrieve the footage before being deported from Zimbabwe.
Events and contacts
Sept. 18-20: “Silent No More: Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence,” University of Pittsburgh, School of Education Colloquium Room, 5604 Wesley W. Posvar Hall.
Free and open to the public. Contact: Dr. Annamore Matambanadzo, 412-383-2359, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 21: Presentation by Makoni at Ford Institute for Human Security, 12:30 p.m., University of Pittsburgh. Contact:
Sept. 22: Fundraiser and film screening, Tapestries of Hope, Hollywood Theater, 1449 Potomac Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15216. (http://www.thehollywooddormont.org/) Contact: Leonard Lies, Dream Catchers Films, Inc., 412-533-3363, $20 per ticket; all proceeds go to Girl Child Network.
Sept. 23: Film discussion sponsored by WQED and Girls Coalition of Southwest Pennsylvania, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Hillman Room, 4802 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Contact: Heather Mediate
More coming from Seattle,Utah and California
Note the organisers
Please note some contact details have been removed to protect them from a syndicate from Zimbabwean community that harasses anyone organising such great work for Betty.For security reasons please dont reveal any specific details to anyone suspicious as Betty Makoni is traget of harassment and attack by an underground syndicate from Zimbabwean community based in UK ,Birmingham.Should you receive a call ask for real name and contact phone number and work address