When I think about the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I think of pain and loss. 1. It is considered the worst place in the world to be a woman. 2. Since 1996, over 5.4 million people have died in a war between tribes (deadliest conflict in the world since WWII). Yet, beauty still exists here.
The DRC is home to beautiful people, lush rainforests, flowing waterways, and…yes, even hope.
We have the honor of partnering with HEAL Africa and Dr. Kasereka “Jo” Lusi (pictured center above) in Goma, DRC. Dr. Lusi strives to bring hope to women suffering from obstetric and traumatic fistula. One reason we chose this partnership is because the women are regularly given opportunities beyond physical healing. They learn needed skills to become productive members of the community again. They are truly empowered. Below is a story from HEAL Africa about Anna (not pictured).
“Anna is a vibrant and grateful woman. It wasn’t always so for her. Anna is from Kasongo region in DRC where she did not have access to adequate medical care. After losing her baby, contracting a fistula during childbirth, and being abandoned by her husband, she sought refuge in the forest, only to be surrounded by intense fighting. She was without hope of healing for four years.
When the HEAL Africa staff learned of her story, they sought and found her in the forest. Although initially resistant, Anna was persuaded to travel to the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma to receive medical and psychological care. Healing was slow.
As the premier specialty hospital in the region, HEAL Africa’s presence in Goma is critical to providing hope. Treatment of fistula is a complex psychological and physical process. This year Anna was finally healed, after years of suffering and multiple surgeries.” Anna’s hope was renewed!
It is our privilege to partner with HEAL Africa in support of their Occupational Therapy Program. Through this program victims of traumatic fistula and/or sexual violence learn about gender, justice and health issues. They are taught occupational skills and join solidarity groups so they can become effective change agents. They transition from victims to survivors. They are empowered through healing, learning, community and hope. Hope is alive in the DRC.
© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian