North Texas Daily

Nonprofit organization takes aim at raising rape awareness

Nonprofit organization takes aim at raising rape awareness

April 23
22:44 2013

Chinazo Onwukaike / Contributing Writer

When Elisabeth Kadesi, 25, looks around UNT, she is amazed at the amount of acceptance people of different races and cultures have for each other.

A merchandising major and a business minor, Kadesi’s long-term goal is to expand her nonprofit organization We Are the Voice to raise awareness about the mutilation and sexual violence against women and their children.

In 1999, Kadesi’s family moved to the U.S. Since then, she has used her opportunity to learn more about her passion of the fashion industry and began to fuse it with her love and devotion to her home country.

Her nonprofit organization piggybacks off of an initiative started by her oldest sister a few years ago. Yolande Kadesi, 29, founded Voice of the Congo in 2006 as a way to create awareness for these issues.

Elisabeth Kadesi said she noticed the most effective way to create awareness was to focus advertising on non-Congolese people.

“I wanted it to be more than just for Congolese people,” Kadesi said. “That’s why it’s we are the voice.”

Last April, the organization held its first annual fashion show. With more than 100 volunteers and 100 guests from several area schools, the fashion show raised $700.

Kadesi and her family are originally from the African country the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It’s known to be one of the most dangerous places to be a woman in the world,” Kadesi said.

The country was named the rape capital of the world in 1998 with more than 200,000 victims, according to stoprapeinconflict.org. The website called it a “weapon of war.”

She plans to focus on educating and liberating women so that they can in turn, educate and liberate their children, who are often also abused.

“It will empower them,” Kadesi said. “We believe women are the love givers. If you destroy women, you destroy the nation.”

The Congo has a well-documented history for its wars and other struggles.

Mobutu Sese Seko seized power of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1965, according to BBC News’ profile of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His regime was described as “repressive.”

The Kadesi family left in 1992 when Elisabeth was only 4-years-old because of the dangerous activity under Mobutu’s regime.

She spent most of her childhood in South Africa because of the displacement. She and her four siblings, ranging from ages 24 to 29, lived with different cultures and influences.

When Kadesi first hears the words South Africa, she automatically smiles and says “home.” When she hears the Democratic Republic of Congo, she also takes a moment, smiles and says “home.”

South Africa is where her most dear childhood memories reside. The Democratic Republic of Congo is also home because that is where she was born. Her love for the Democratic Republic of Congo grew with research and a desire to know more about her home country and her people, she said.

“I think being from different countries made me want to learn about different histories and cultures,” Kadesi said.

As her December 2013 graduation date draws nearer, Kadesi looks towards the future to the various opportunities that will help her grow and learn what she needs to give back to the country she left decades ago.

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