What would you do?

“What would you do if instead of me from the moment you were born, every day they told you that you are less than another person, that you deserve less, that you don’t know enough to talk, that you have half the brains of another human? What would you do if you had to watch what you say, wear, do every moment of your life out of fear that someone might call you a name and the whole world might see you as “bad” so you could never be comfortable in who you are? What would you do if you were banned from going to school or harassed brutally on the way to school every day?  You would not be as strong as me. You would give up. But I won’t give up. I will keep fighting no matter what the society hands me.” -Meetra Alikozay, a member of Young Women for Change, a rights based group in Kabul run by young Afghan women.

Through their work i have learnt about issues affecting women in Afghanistan. I hope to one day watch This is my City too.

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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