January 26, 2013

Bio + Upcoming Events

Below is a bio that I had to submit for something particular, related to Miss AfriCanada. I encourage you all to read it, to gain a better sense of who I am. It also discusses some of things I will be working on, or accomplishing this new year. So, check it out:
Christine Likwekwe Kitoko – Bio

            My name is Christine Likwekwe Kitoko, and I was crowned Miss AfriCanada 2012 on August 11th, 2012. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I have always felt strong ties to my cultural origins, despite the fact that I was raised in Canada and have acquired a proud Canadian identity. It is what encouraged me to participate in the Miss AfriCanada Pageant; I wanted to showcase the pride I felt in my Congolese heritage. In so doing, I also aimed to raise awareness about the sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) happening en masse, in the eastern DRC, in the midst of the civil war. The war is a result of conflict over minerals, among many things, in which civilian communities are being terrorized and destroyed through the sexual brutality inflicted upon women. From the time I was 16 years old, it has been my cause to inform people about this issue, because the SGBV happening in the Congo is labeled as being worse than anywhere else in the world. 
Today, as Miss AfriCanada, I continue with this cause by holding fundraisers in my local community, in support of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC. The hospital is a major treatment and recovery centre for victims of SGBV in the region. Since reading about the work that has been done by its director and lead surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege, in helping to repair these women’s lives, I have felt compelled to do my share as well. My first fundraiser, titled A Night for Change, A Night for the Congo was held on October 20th, 2012 for Congo Week. It proved to be a great success, and allowed us to receive over $1000 in donations. Our ultimate goal is to raise $2000 for Panzi Hospital, so that the funds can be donated all at once. Moreover, I will be now be working through my official charity organization Hands for the Heart, to continue to do my work for the Congo. Certain things that I have planned for this year, in support of my cause include: the Cupcakes for Congo bake sales (Feb. 1st, 12th, and 14th), A Night for Change, A Night for the Congo: Montreal, a D.I.Y. hair care and beauty day fundraiser, for young girls and women, and a month-long trip back to the DRC during the summer. A way to keep up-to-date with what I am doing, is to regularly verify the posts I add onto my blog Miss AfriCanada Journey, where I write about my experiences and endeavors as the 2012 Queen.

Aside from being Miss AfriCanada, I am also a 3rd year student at York University, enrolled in the 4 years B.A. Honors program of International Development Studies. As a development enthusiast, global political and social issues have always interested me. It is what has lead me to undertake different initiatives and to participate in various organizations, dealing with the matter. My earliest form of involvement in a club relating to this field, was in The Social Justice Club of my former secondary school. It helped me develop a sense of social responsibility, and to choose my area of study for postsecondary school. Since then, not only has my knowledge and understanding of global development issues increased, but I have felt intrigued to acquire experience working in the field as well. It is why I believe that my title as Miss AfriCanada has been so well-suited. It has continued to provide me with opportunities to see and be involved in community and development work, not only at the local level, but internationally as well. Raising money for Panzi Hospital is only the first step in carrying out my initiative globally; travelling to the Congo and being able to work on-site will be my ultimate achievement. It is, therefore, something I look forward to accomplishing.

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