Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Thousand Sisters - Book Review

Book cover of "A Thousand Sisters"

"A Thousand Sisters" by Lisa J. Shannon is subtitled "My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman."  This book chronicles the experiences of one woman (Lisa Shannon) who, after seeing a report on television about the plight of women in the Congo, decided to do something.  Her first attempt involved a 30 mile solo run.  She raised $28,000 and used it to assist 80 women and their children.  From there, she developed a program called "Run for Congo Women," continued her sponsorship of several women in the Congo, and traveled to Africa to meet her Congolese sisters.  This book demonstrates how one person CAN make a difference.

Congolese woman

Shannon's stories will in turn inspire you and break your heart.  She listens to eyewitness accounts of the struggles facing women in this part of the world.  Many people today are oblivious to the slaughter taking place in Africa.  They are aware of six million Jewish lives lost in the horrors of the Holocaust, but have not heard about the five million people killed in the Congo, many of whom were women and children.

Refugees in the Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is resource rich, and many outsiders are taking their piece of the pie.  Militia groups and profiteers combine to make this a dangerous, lawless spot in central Africa.  Add in Interhamwe groups who left Rwanda after participating in the genocide, and eastern Congo is a pretty precarious place to exist for anyone, but particularly for women and children.

Mai Mai militia members.

In her book "A Thousand Sisters," Lisa Shannon details conversations with foreign aid workers about their efforts to convince people to return to their homes.  She is shocked to find rape is considered a cultural inevitability for the women here, not a security threat.  Shannon meets with militia members, fears for her own safety at times, and doggedly persists in traveling to meet with the women she is sponsoring.  Some come to her for more money...she has been warned whatever she gives will never be enough.  Many times she resists their pleas for more aid.  But another time, when she sees a chance to make a further difference for someone, she gathers more resources to build a home for a woman and her children.  The faces Shannon puts on the horrifying experiences of women in the Congo are unforgettable.  On the pages of her book, you will meet women of courage, dignity, and hope, and discover as Lisa Shannon did, that we, as women, are all the same.  I highly recommend this book!

Women for Women is an organization that helps women such as these in the Congo.  Lisa Shannon coordinated her relief efforts through this group.
Run for Congo Women - information about events and more.

Author Lisa Shannon and a Somali woman.


  1. Dear Amy,
    Thank you for your post. Just wanted to make one correction. The picture you have at the bottom is of Lisa and a Somalia lady and not a Congolese lady.Please could you correct it. Much thanks.

    And it is an excellent article !!! .

    1. Thanks for the heads up! I will make the correction.

  2. Thanks, Amy.

    Have a wonderful day !!!