"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

***A Quote From The Velveteen Rabbit


Gorillas and Elephants, Slavery and War

ORIGINALLY POSTED:  Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is kinda a long rant, friends, and I apologize for that...But this is really important so please take a few minutes to read this and consider helping if you can. Yes, it's time, once again, for Activist JmeLee to jump up on the soapbox for a bit. Come on.....It's not so bad. And I promise no horrendous photos of starving animals this time, actually, no photos at all.

Want to be a good, conscientious and contributing member of the world society and give back a little to humanity? Good, I'm sure you're saying yes, and so am I. So, I have just the thing for us, and it won't cost anything at all. I PROMISE! But it could possibly make a difference in the dwindling number of gorillas and elephants in Central Africa, and it could possibly help eradicate or at least lessen slave labor there as well, just to name 2 reasons to pitch in.

You know how most people just throw away their old, broken, et cetera cell phones away? ("What happens to old out-of-date phones? It's estimated that more than 100 million cell phones are thrown away, or stuffed in a drawer, each year.") Well, my friend told me yesterday about a great cell phone recycling program and two HUGE reasons to support it. So I did some research about what he told me, got the details about the program and found that his information about the reason this is so important is accurate, and found my own HUGE third reason to donate old cell phones as well. Here's what I found.

First, the 3 most important reasons for this program, in my opinion......

1) "Did you know that cell phones here in the United States (and elsewhere) have a connection to the well-being of gorillas and other animals in central Africa? Here's the 4-1-1: cell phones contain a rare ore called coltan (short for columbite-tantalite). This metal is found in central Africa, and increased mining operations to get the coltan means habitat loss and increased hunting pressure on gorillas and other wildlife."

"At the gorilla exhibit in the zoo, the park has details about the mining of coltan. The intrusion of the miners actually threatens the lives of the gorillas. The miners need food to eat and often trap the lowland gorillas for bushmeat."

"Surprisingly, wildlife reserves suffer most from mining. Two World Heritage Sites, Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Okapi Wildlife Reserve, have suffered the most damage from mining. With the increased popularity of cell phones over the past five years, thousands of illegal miners invaded the "protected" parks. Needing food, they have hunted gorillas and elephants to near extinction in these areas."

2. The reason these miners are "forced" to hunt/trap and eat these animals is because they are slaves and are provided with no other option. In fact, there are reports of child slave labor as well.

"In your cell phone there is likely a highly conductive mineral called coltan. That coltan in your cell phone may well have been dug out of the Democratic Republic of Congo by villagers enslaved by extraordinarily brutal "private militiamen." These militiamen trade coltan for cash, which they use to buy more machine guns and machetes to force more coltan mining."

"Given its form and proximity to the surface, the region's coltan was easily extracted by local artisanal mining, and militia-enslaved locals and refugees armed with axes and shovels. The disturbing human rights abuses, environmental damage and wild meat harvesting that ensued are well documented in a series of scathing reports by an expert panel of the United Nations Security Council."

Eventually, manufacturers requested that their suppliers stop buying coltan from this region for a few ethical and legal reasons. But even when the price of Coltan eventually crashed, the mining and the slavery didn't stop.

"Despite the low price of coltan, illegal mining by militias continued given the non-existent cost of slave labour, as well as by desperate locals. Diplomatic sources reported on dealings between Chinese officials and Rwandan companies involved in coltan export in 2004."

And now, my final argument. There is an abundance of information about all of this out there. I know this bulletin is lengthy, but I think this is important on so many different levels. So please bear with me just a bit longer....

3. High Tech Genocide. Seriously. Coltan helps to fuel the forgotten war in Central Africa. This has been ongoing for a very long time, and although we don't hear much about it, it's still not over.

"Over four million people in central Africa have died in a war over coltan. This is a heat-resistant mineral used in cell phones, laptops and other high-tech electronics. It is found in three-billion-year-old soils like those in the Rift Valley in Africa. 80% of the world's coltan comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)."

"The war began in 1998. Congolese rebel forces, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, seized the eastern DRC. They moved into strategic mining areas, attacking villages along the way. The Rwandan Army was soon making $20 million a month from coltan mining. Fighting continues despite peace treaties signed in Summer 2002."

"The fighting has displaced two million farmers from their homes. These men, women and children are forced into mining, fighting and prostitution. They are threatened with torture, rape and murder if they refuse. Starvation and disease have killed hundreds of thousands."

Okay, so here's a small way we can all do our part to take a stand against war, slavery and the diminishing numbers of animals in Central Africa.

"The Zoological Society of San Diego, along with Eco-Cell, a cellular phone recycling company, has a free-of-charge cell phone-recycling program at both the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park to encourage visitors to recycle."

"Because of the mining and depopulation related to gorillas, the zoo encourages its visitors to donate their cell phones to the Eco-Cell drop box at the exit of the park so that the demand for coltan can be lowered, possibly reducing the need to mine for the ore."

"Our cell phone recycling program will help keep those obsolete cell phones, chargers, and old batteries out of landfills, it's really easy to simply drop off those old phones and accessories, working or not. There is no recycling fee to drop off you phone. All cell phones and accessories collected are reused or properly recycled. Every little bit helps!"

AND, in addition to this, I know not everyone is going to the Wild Animal Park or Zoo soon, but that's ok, if you want to donate I have a solution for you. My friend's company picnic is at the Wild Animal Park this year, on July 4th. He has offered to deliver for me any donations I can come up with, so if you have a donation, please make arrangements to get it to me before the 4th of July, and I will give it to him...! :D

See, simple, painless AND free! Courtesy of Jamie Lee.



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