Tuesday, September 08, 2015

          Finding a New Happily Ever After

          Marirose Piciucco ’88 and the Ring Project
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          When her 20-year marriage ended in 2010, Marirose Piciucco ’88 decided her diamond engagement ring just didn’t have the same meaning anymore.

          She resolved to give it a new happily ever after by donating it to a good cause. Never one for half measures, Piciucco threw herself into finding a cause to which she could commit the ring—and herself.

          Piciucco, whose legal career focused on asylum and deportation issues, including gender-based violence and Violence Against Women Act cases, had been educating herself about the plight of women terrorized by conflict, particularly in Central Africa and the Congo. She even saw Ruined—the Pulitzer Prize–winning play about women raped and mutilated during Congo’s horrific civil war— three times.

          Then one night at 2 a.m., it came to her. “I decided to connect this story of divorced women like me to women in the Congo,” said Piciucco. “Women in many countries, especially in the Congo, are left behind when it comes to education and opportunities to help bring peace to their countries.” Piciucco also wanted to bring justice full circle “by figuratively returning the diamonds to their rightful owners”—the “amazing women” of one of the world’s largest diamond-producing countries.

          That was the birth of The Ring Project, under the slogan: “Diamond rings repurposed for good.” Still in its infancy, the project has so far received 11 rings.

          Donated jewelry will be independently appraised and sold through participating jewelers, who will explain to buyers that what they pay for the ring will help deserving women and girls in the Congo.

          Piciucco, co-owner of Muffin Revolution, a wholesale paleo baking company, and Amanda Robinson, her Ring Project partner, plan to support three causes in the Congo:

           • In partnership with Dynamique des Femmes Juristes, a group of female Congolese attorneys, Piciucco and Robinson will give scholarships to women who want to go to law school to help Congolese women victimized by sexual violence navigate their nation’s legal system.

          • They will help the Fallen Rangers project in Virunga National Park provide education to daughters of Congolese park rangers who have died on the job, often murdered by poachers or soldiers.

           • The project will also support Marie Rose Shakalili, coordinator of Actions des Femmes Africaines Solidaires pour le développement. Shakalili goes into Bukavu-area precious metal and mineral mines to help women miners or miner wives avoid sexual exploitation.

          To learn more, visit www.theringproject.org.

          To read mores stories from the Fall UC Hastings Magazine, click here

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