A couple of years ago when I first met the guys from one of my favorite bands, Green River Ordinance, Jamey was wearing a whistle on a chain around his neck. Since we were getting ready to embark on a cruise, I teased him about being afraid of falling overboard. We all shared a laugh, but then he told me the story behind the whistle.
The amazing organization that created the whistle, Falling Whistles, is dedicated to spreading the word about the civil war in the Congo, the pilfering of mineral riches that continues to fuel the war, and the war’s youngest victims – children as young as 4 and 5 who are kidnapped, turned into child soldiers, and armed only with one thing: a whistle.
When a friend returned from the Congo with the story of the whistle and the children who wear it, a group of young adults got together and decided to turn the whistle into a weapon against the war and its causes. For less than the cost of a pair of jeans, you can buy a whistle to wear and the funds go to schools in the Congo that help rehabilitate these children who have seen more horror by the time they are eight than most of us can imagine.
The sad part of this is that most of us here in the U.S. don’t know about or understand the war in the Congo. What’s more is that we don’t understand that our hunger for cool electronic gadgets is part of what is driving the war. I love my iPod just as much as the next person, but I have to admit – when I think about the fact that children are being turned into vicious killers, and worse, dying because I want to have my music with my 24/7, it makes me kind of sick to my stomach.
So what can I do? I can wear a whistle. I can talk about it. Tell my friends. And I can encourage the companies I buy products from to use conflict-free sourcing to get their supplies. This is not the Congo’s problem. This is the world’s problem. And we should be ashamed that we’re allowing it to happen on our watch.
Watch this awesome video that Falling Whistles has put together. Then tell me that you don’t want to do something, too.