The Acorn Penny | A Short film of Hope by Tiffany Ann Laufer

The Acorn Penny | A short film of hope by Tiffany Ann Laufer

Democratic Republic of Congo, equal in size to the United States east of the Mississippi, is home to vast expanses of pristine rain forest, rare animal species and a large potential for wealth in the form of highly valuable minerals and natural resources. Yet Congo is also one of the poorest, most chaotic nations on the planet, ruined by unrest that is estimated to have claimed millions of lives in the past 10 years. In many corners of the country, law, order, electricity and medicine are virtually nonexistent.

In the late 19th century, Congo's disparate tribes were drawn together into the private fiefdom of King Leopold II of Belgium, whose exploitation was notorious for its brutality. An ensuing period of official Belgian rule left the country unprepared for its sudden independence in 1960, when it became a pawn in the superpowers' Cold War struggle. After its early leader, Patrice Lumumba was assassinated, Mobutu Sese Seko seized power in 1965. Mobutu, whose 30 years of dictatorial rule spawned the term "kleptocracy," renamed the nation Zaire and presided over an increasingly unstable nation rotted through by corruption.  Read more here from the New York Times/ by Lynsey Addano (Photo by Walter Astrada/Getty Images)


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