Reviewer Cites Heart of Diamonds For Action

September 29, 2008

Amazon reviewer Dan Berger says Heart of Diamonds is full of “Action Action Action!”

If you want action, this thriller is for you. From the beginning when a doctor is confronted by an AK-47-wielding rebel soldier to the wild ride in an assault helicopter at the end, Heart of Diamonds is one heart-stopper after another.

It’s gratifying that this reviewer enjoyed the book.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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September 27, 2008

photo of grandmother
Taken while researching Heart of Diamonds

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Vote For Congo Women — Today!

September 25, 2008

Now is the time to cast your vote for women in the Congo and other victims of war and violence in the Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries. If you haven’t already, please go to American Express Member Projects and vote to Help Women and Children Survivors of War Rebuild.

The cause is in the top 25 and just a few votes shy of making into the top 5 finalists–who will share $2.5 million in funding from American Express.

With funding from Members Project, Women for Women International can provide even more tangible financial support, job skills training, rights awareness training and social networks for women rebuilding their lives and the lives of their children.

These are extremely vulnerable populations who may be widows, refugees, victims of rape and torture and at the same time the sole source of support for their families. But perhaps most importantly, these women are already the ones who have been rebuilding after war…time and time again.

This is the cause I’m supporting with the Heart of Diamonds Team at the NY Run for Congo Women on October 4. You can help, too, with just a few clicks of the mouse–but you must act now to have your vote count by the September 29 deadline.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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You’re Invited. . .

September 24, 2008

…to chat with me online. One of the great pleasures of the author’s life (at least for me) is making new friends and getting acquainted with readers. If you’d like to spend a few minutes with me online, I’m hosting an Author’s Chat on LibraryThing through October 5. Stop by and say hello!

Brave Rape Fighter Honored

September 23, 2008

Mathilde Muhindo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been awarded the prestigious Human Rights Defender Award for 2008 by Human Rights Watch. Her award was one of five announced by the international organization that polices human rights violations around the world.

Muhindo, once a member of Congo’s parliament, was honored for her work supporting rape victims in South Kivu in eastern DRC, where a woman is raped every thirty minutes. The area has been ravaged by armed conflict for over ten years and sexual violence is used by government forces and rebel militias to terrorize the civilian population and control territory. Sexual slavery, gang rape, and mutilation are endemic.

Muhindo now works as director of the Olame Centre, a nongovernmental women’s rights organization that provided psychological and practical assistance to victims of abuse. Its programs empower women to fight against pervasive discrimination and sexual violence. She also founded a parliamentary committee to investigate rape as a weapon of war.

“Women and children are paying dearly for the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Muhindo said when told of the award. “Sexual violence in eastern provinces should be seen in its proper contexts – a war within a war. A war against women.”

In partnership with Human Rights Watch and other groups, Muhindo has brought the issue to the European Union, the United States, and others. She led a coalition of local women’s organizations that advocated for a comprehensive law on sexual violence in the DRC.

Muhindo faced death threats for her work, but refuses to be silenced.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

Worst Business Climate In The World

September 23, 2008

When it comes to conducting business, the World Bank declares the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst country in the world. The reason? Mostly the sheer amount of corruption, fostered by complex bureaucracy and a resistance to reforms.

The World’ Bank’s Doing Business report for 2009, which measures the expected ease or difficulty of investing in 181 countries around the globe based on their regulatory climate and enforcement policies, ranked the DRC dead last. It held the same position in last year’s report.

Adamou Labara, DRC representative for the World Bank’s International Fianance Corporation, said “It wasn’t a big surprise. Last year, there was no major reform.” He told Reuters it was in part because of fear of change.

In fact, the DRC’s ranking declined in seven of the ten specific business activity categories, improving only in the the ability to trade across borders, enforce contracts, and close a business.

In some key measures, the DRC is woefully behind even other countries in the region. It takes 155 days to start a new business in the Congo, for example, versus 48 in the region. Need a construction permit? Count on 322 days in the DRC as opposed to 271 in the region.

The nation has been governed by kleptocrats of one type or another since the time of King Leopold, of course, so it’s no surprise that corruption is the rule of the day. Even after the latest war ended in 2003, government loyalsts and rebels continued the tradition from their key jobs in ministries and public companies.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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Rape Every Half Hour

September 22, 2008

Every day, forty-five more women report being raped in South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a report issued by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund. Estimates of non-reported rapes are triple that number. That’s why I’m sponsoring the Heart of Diamonds team in the NY Run for Congo Women on October 4. The world needs to know.

The explosion of violent sexual assaults in the DRC over the last ten years is directly related to the endless conflict in the eastern provinces. The fighting involves Congolese forces, neighboring countries including Rwanda, and over 20 independent militias, rebel groups, and criminal gangs. Rape has been used by nearly all of them as a tool of war in the fight to control territory and natural resources.

The near-total lack of law enforcement and a working judicial system in the region has led to virtual impunity for perpetrators of rape and other war crimes.

SCIAF’s new report, Ending Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, points out that many victims die from injuries suffered during the brutal attacks, which often involve horrible physical abuse and mutilation. Rape survivors often have to walk miles to reach primitive health care facilities that are seldom able to cope with the massive injuries they have suffered. Transmission of HIV/AIDS and damage to the victims’ reproductive systems is common.

The Heart of Diamonds team at the NY Run for Congo Women on October 4 will raise funds for Women For Women International, an organization that helps women provide for their families by teaching them skills they need to end the cycle of poverty and suffering, providing funds to help them start businesses, and teaching them to protect themselves against the terror around them.

You can help by registering to run or making a donation at Thanks for helping us tell the world about the plight of women in the Congo.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds