In the last few years, watching documentaries have become my favorite pastime. They give me the opportunity to learn large concepts and issues in a short span of time. Much like non-fiction texts, documentaries teach us new perspectives while entertaining us. Reading is always good for our brains, but when we don’t have time, there’s always an opportunity to learn information in a visual medium. Today, I was able to enjoy two documentaries: A Small Section of the World and The Testimony.
Both were about the indomitable spirit of women. At tragic times, both during war or financial collapse, women and children are the biggest victims. In the short film, The Testimony, Congolese women are used as weapons in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. In all conflicts, it’s usually women and who are caught in the crossfires and made to pay for it. Rape is usually the “tool” which exacts the most damage to the opposition, since it leads to the destruction of a community and, in many cases, an entire ethnic group. But what if there’s no clear opposition for a military destroy? The sinister part of this story is that the country’s own military is responsible for the majority of (un)reported rape cases. Frustrated with their losing battle again destabilizing militants (M23), the Congolese take those frustrations out on civilian women. The Testimony, tells the stories of some of these women. They share their terrifying experiences, the fall-out from their families and villages, and how they pick up the pieces.
What happens when women don’t testify? The rest of the world will never know the truth. Oppressors depend on that silence. And once we know, what do we do? We’re an ever-shrinking global community and we no longer have an excuse for being ignorant. We must repeat their stories and spread them far and wide. Some of us have to get in fray and get our hands dirty. Humanity is at stake.
In the film A Small Section of the World, I learned what women can do when society expects nothing of them. The women of Costa Rica take coffee growing into their own hands when the men who once did it, left town during a economic coffee collapse. None of them had any experience growing, roasting or distributing coffee, but they needed to try. Trying always pays off. This film gets to the heart of many important issues. What do women of Latin America do in the face of “machismo?” Also, when we talk about fair and sustainable livings for coffee farmers, do we really mean what we say? This isn’t just about fair-trade, but about women (farmers) making a decent living for the commodity they produce. As luck would have it, men control quite a bit in the coffee world. But there’s hope when we meet Grace Mena, a top Costa Rican coffee exporter who worked extremely hard to get in that position. What’s even better is that once she got there, she lent a hand to help more women, like the ladies of ASOMOBI, rise with her.
What happens when you give women fair wages/salaries and education? That money and knowledge are fed back into the communities they live in. The women of the micro-mill ASOMOBI controlled the means of production and in turn, poured revenue into their community by building a new school and church. That’s what happens when you bring women to the table.
I do hope you’re able to check out these films. If you have interesting documentaries to suggest, please do. I’m always lookin’ to learn something new.