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While Heart of Diamonds is a work of fiction--a romantic thriller about diamond smuggling--it also portrays the terrible plight of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nearly six million people have died in the last ten years. 

When I went to Central Africa to research Heart of Diamonds, I fell in love with the place.  Like all visitors, I was enchanted by the landscapes and delighted by the wildlife.  Most of all, though, I became absolutely enamored with the people.  That’s why I am so passionate about the struggle to stop the violence and bring peace to the Congo.

I hope these passages from Heart of Diamonds will illustrate the true effects of war on the people of the Congo and why we should all care about it.  The pictures that accompany the excerpts are scenes I saw and people I met who inspired me to write this book.

I hope you will consider a small donation to help the victims of rape, terror, and violence in the Congo.  Women for Women International is one organization doing great work there  Any bit you can send them will be appreciated and do a world of good for some people who really need it.

The Rape Of A Mother - Rape is an act of terrorism, not personal violation.  In the Congo conflict, it is committed by an armed group, usually in public in front of parents, husbands, children or neighbors, and followed by mutilations and other corporal torture. In many cases, it turns into sexual slavery that continues for months.  In others, it results in horrible death.

A Child Soldier - There have been child warriors ever since adults figured out they were cheap, expendable, and made good human shields. With modern weaponry, a four-year-old with an AK-47 is a deadly tool. In the Congo, children are recruited, kidnapped, and forced to serve as soldiers, sex slaves, and cannon fodder.

The Machete – Armed militias and criminal gangs control their territories by intimidating the civilian population.  Exploitation of the Congo’s natural resources is their true goal, which they achieve by using brutal violence to enforce their demands for money and supplies.  

Refugee Children – More than a million people have been driven from their homes by the endless violence in the Congo.  Many of them will die, but not from bullets or blades; they’re victims instead of silent killers like malaria, pneumonia, malnutrition, and diarrhea. But they are casualties of war just as surely as if they had been hacked to death by machetes.

The Anguish of Rape – Terror rape is an act that humiliates the woman, destroying her self-worth and interest in living. These effects are compounded when women are rejected by their husbands. Families are destroyed, women and children turned into refugees with no resources.

A People Destroyed - Blood continues to flow despite the signing of a peace agreement intended to stop the horrendous violence in the eastern provinces of the Congo.  The agreement has been largely  ignored by the alphabet soup of militias, army factions, guerrilla bands, and outright criminal enterprises terrorizing the region. It is a humanitarian nightmare that may never end.

I’d like to thank Amikaeyla Proudfoot Gaston and Ariana Lightningstorm for permission to use music from Oshun Gaia.