Faces of Panzi

A few months ago there was a report that put DRC  as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman. I found this kind of description troubling even in the face of what many of the women and Congo as a country have gone through. I even wondered how Dr.Denis Mukwege, the director at Panzi hospital, a man who has dedicated himself to the care of  sexually violated women, would think.

I had learnt about him through the media from a few awards he had won. I never expected to be in Bukavu, South Kivu and at Panzi soon. This week am at Panzi with a group of psychologists and Psychiatrists doing an assesment of trauma among health workers at Panzi. It’s the main hospital caring for survivors of sexual violence which is unacceptably high in South Kivu. Many health workers wondered how they could deal with trauma and sexual violence yet the source of all this-the conflict-is far from being solved.

I always wondered  how their hearts are not in pieces, how they are not resigned amidst all this heart breaking stories. But now interacting with them I am learning from their resilience and their frankness on the challenges they face.  For this week we are listening to the stories they listen to on daily basis. I am here with Isis-WICCE and the Stephen Lewis Foundation on their program- African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS which aims to create a network of African-based, women centered technical support on issues of violence against women, HIV/AIDS and counseling.

Not everyone here is a victim of sexual violence but it’s the hospital that has a big department dedicated to sexual violence. Below are random pictures i took during morning prayers and training of health workers.

Dr.Mukwege at his office Tuesday Aug 23. during a meeting at Panzi Hospital
Dr.Christine O. and a colleague at one of the trainings in Panzi.
War trauma! so much to do about it.
A man reads the bible during the early morning service at Panzi hospital.
A woman praying at the morning service at Panzi hospital. The service is important for both patients and the caretakers plays role in both detecting those who need help and recovery.
Beautiful girl in the corridors of Panzi

5 thoughts on “Faces of Panzi

  1. Thank you Rosie for taking your gadget and skills to Bukavu and for writing about this part of the world where I believe a voice is needed This is a great cause!

  2. These are the kinds of stories people need to read to be reawakened about life’s true challenges. Thanks for the quick update. Am looking forward to some real life stories of some of sexual violence.

    They are usually ‘HARD’ and tough to read but at least they evoke the true sense of humanity in us…

    Before i forget, am looking forward to some of the pictures that go beyond reason you are in Bukavu. Congolese women love bright beautiful colours..Am looking forward to some of them. Good luck

  3. Hi Rosebell. I was in Uganda last week. Tried to meet up with you with Javie Ssozi’s help. However somehow it didn’t work. I was impressed with the various stories and projects I visited in Uganda as I am with your story on these women. If I, as a freelance Dutch writer can be of help, let me know. Warm regards from a cold country. Anneke

  4. Dear Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire,
    I’m the editor of an Italian magazine, “Qui – appunti dal presente”, which comes out in English too as “Here – notes from the present”. It was launched in Italy to gather testimonies, observations, and reflections about the times we live in. It presents diary pages interspersed with brief essays and some literary prose, and its collaborators are people from different countries in the world. It is published both on paper and on the Internet (www.quihere.eu). Well, I happened to stumble upon your blog, and I’d like to publish your diary entry from April 29, 2011 (“Today, the day when the world was glued…”), but with some cut-outs (that, of course, I can show you). May I have your authorization? If so, may you send me a brief biographical note about you? A few lines: when and where were you born, where do you live, what’s your job or study. Thank you and best regards
    Massimo Parizzi

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