A walk on the wild side

Taipei residents from all walks of life and parts of the world demonstrated the “ripple effect” during the week of May 10-14 when they joined the HandUp Congo network, reaching out to link with others around the world to give a hand up to Congolese fractured by civil unrest, sexual violence, and many other challenges. Working with women friends who became catalysts of the “ripple effect,” Siew Kang and Taipei-based HandUp Congo director Roma Mehta coordinated the Congo Ball, held poolside May 14 at the elegant American Club in Taipei.

Aimed at “unleashing women’s potential in the Congo,” the event featured the Orange Fire Dancers, Panafricana drummers, and a fashion show by Lihiya, featuring Western designs made from Swazi fabrics, and an African handicrafts bazaar. “Our goal was to present a platform that could speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,” says Lihiya designer, Dumile Dlamini, who is from Swaziland.

Thanks to Taipei’s global village of enthusiastic volunteers, the event sold out weeks in advance but that didn’t stop the ripples! In addition to the Congo Ball, volunteers sold t-shirts http://www.zazzle.com/educationcongo* and rallied Taipei American School spring fair attendees to support a range of 50 special projects featured in HandUp Congo’s gift catalogue. The Community Services Center of Taipei, a popular meeting place for expatriates and their Taiwanese friends, has agreed to serve as a “Congo hub” for the next few months, and will continue to promote the gift catalogue. All funds raised during Congo Week benefit capacity-building projects in the Congo.

HandUp Congo co-founder Lucy Hobgood-Brown and special projects manager Stefanie Mueller traveled from Sydney, Australia to network with business and civic groups throughout the week. Lucy made presentations to joint meetings of Rotary clubs (http://www.rctaipei.org.tw), international chambers of commerce, and Skal International, a peak tourism body. “Heartfelt thanks to the many volunteers and supporters who helped us put the Democratic Republic of Congo on Taipei’s radar during this meaningful, action-packed week,” says Roma.

A video of the May 14th event is in production courtesy of Digital Canvas. Please stay tuned for news of its release.

Lucy and Stef with Congo Ball volunteers in Taipei

For more photos of the ‘Walk on the wild side’ go to http://picasaweb.google.com/109852178912418679697/WalkOnTheWildSide#