More Important Than the Super Bowl

When Mike Holgren takes the field with his Seattle Seahawks at the Super Bowl next week, his wife Kathy won't watching. She has "more important things to do," as my colleague Stan Friedman put it.

Instead, she'll be at a remote village hospital in Congo, with a group of doctors and nurses, (including her daugher Calla), assisting the Congolese medical staff with their staggering workload.

Congo is, as The Lancet reported this month, the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. Four million people have died there since 1998, as a result of a civil war that devasted the country's infrastracture. The economy, tranportation systems, health care system and schools are in shambles. It is Darfur on steroids.

With few exceptions, the only schools and hospitals still operating are run by churches, with Congolese staff, many of whom went for months without pay during the war, but refused to give up. With the help of aid groups like the Paul Carlson partnership, Congolese grassroots leaders are rebuilding their community.

The Kathy Holgren story should have legs. The Chicago Tribune has a story in the works, and ABC is planning on talking to her as part of their Super Bowl coverage. It's not a publicity stunt--as the trip was planned long before the Seahawks made the Super Bowl--but with any luck the press coverage will shed a little light, and perhaps galvanize some support, for people who are walking in a very dark place.


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