Self described devout Catholic, devoted mother and yoga devotee Elizabeth Blackney, aka Media Lizzy, is not eating. For 21 days, Blackney will fast to show her support for the victims of sexual and gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During the fast, Blackney can only consume water with lemon and honey and vegetable broth. “The first day was probably the hardest for me,” said Blackney at the end of her first week. “I only did water, and I didn’t do much else but … think about food all day.”
For Blackney, the sacrifice that comes with fasting is nothing compared to the hardships being faced by the women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “For the women in Congo, who don’t have justice, who don’t have physical safety, who are subjects to the worst sexual and gender based violence in recorded human history, it seems like a very small sacrifice to me to take seven, or now 21, days, to do the right thing for them,” she said.
Blackney cited a study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health which reported that 48 women, between the ages of 15 and 49, are being raped every hour in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Rape is something that they use systematically to paralyze a population,” she explained, calling it “a great fear tool.”
According to Blackney, she has been driven to help African nations in time of crisis since she was a child. “Tom Brokaw did a special segment on the NBC nightly news when I was 11 years old about the famine in Ethiopia and Somalia, and I was horrified that there were children who were my age who were starving to death,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Regarding the politics surrounding the events in Africa, Blackney supports prevention of rather than reaction to violence. “Every president has to choose their battles, but I do think that George W. Bush was correct. When we invest in life, we make friends.”
She encourages citizens to get involved. “We have to make our government accountable,” she said. “We get the government we deserve.”