I was honored to be invited to the annual meeting of the US Fund for UNICEF. I will write more about the day and the dinner to come later tonight, but just now I left a session where Lucy Liu spoke about her experience visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She just arrived back, I think yesterday.
They showed a 4-minute video of her visit. (I pasted it below.) Unlike many celebrity visits to poor countries or on behalf of charities, Ms. Liu went to the heart of the conflict areas, Eastern DRC where UN troops with mounted machine guns are protecting camps of internally displaced people. She showed how a $1,000 water treatment and pipe makes a huge difference to the people living there as well as her tour of the camp.
When she described the violence against women she totally broke down. The conflict in the DRC is the most deadly in the world since World War II. Between 1998 and 2003 almost 4 million people have died. And just as bad, this conflict has spawned violence against women and girls on an unprecedented scale. Meeting with women and girls who were raped, Ms. Liu described how their bodies were so damaged that they were now incontinent. Shunned by the “shame” of being raped and a sex slave, these girls are further shunned for their inability to control their bodies.
All of those PSA’s with celebrities are nice. But seeing Lucy Liu — as glamorous a star as they come — genuinely traumatized and moved by her personal experience was a powerful moment.