Stop Raping our Greatest Resource
12 Oct 2012
I wanted to let the photos speak for themselves & had originally entitled this series 'Eyes of Hope" but I decided some background was needed on why I had used that title.
In the wake of the phenomenal work of Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky campaign it seemed timely to write a piece attempting to explain some of what I saw and experienced in the Congo; although much cannot be put into words.
Where you are born should not dictate your freedom of life. However, this is not the case in so many parts of the world including Eastern Congo where the prevalence of sexual violence and rape has been described as the worst in the world for women and girls. The reality of life in the Congo is that female bodies are being used as mediums of warfare, shattering lives, communities and families everyday. In many cases the rape is so harsh that these women's bodies are so badly damaged they need to have fistula repair surgery. The stigma attached these atrocities means that many of these women are not accepted back into their homes and communities.
Heal Africa a phenomenal organisation in Eastern Congo completes hundreds of fistula repair surgeries each year. However, they do so much more than this, they work with educating communities to gain acceptance for women back into them. If this fails they provide women with safe new homes and communities to rebuild their lives and a sense of self-worth and dignity.
When talking and visiting with women in the Heal Africa hospital and safe houses it was humbling and inspiring to see the way the women held themselves with such dignity. There was a playfulness they had with one another, making jokes, the song and dance, the movement and emotion, the sound of laughter and smiles on faces. This was reflected in the eyes of the many girls who showed the same sense of joy and happiness, with bright eyes filled with hope for a better and safe future. When women are empowered, the whole community benefits!