For the past 20 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been devastated by war, and the brutal epidemic of sexualized violence. In 1999, resident and doctor, Denis Mukwege, decided to do something about it. He founded Panzi Hospital in response to the 3,000 women a year who suffer from complex gynecological injuries, including obstetric and traumatic fistula, as well as other injuries sustained through rape and sexualized violence. To date, Panzi has treated more than 30,000 survivors of sexual violence, becoming internationally recognized experts in fistula repair.
Due to the extent of survivors’ injuries, the ongoing violence or, most often, the stigma associated with rape or obstetric fistula, 40% – 60% of the women treated at Panzi are unable to return home after medical treatment. That’s why Maison Dorcas, and the Holistic Healing For Survivors of Sexual Violence project, were born.
Maison Dorcas is Panzi’s innovative, safe, and holistic after-care facility that provides survivors of sexual violence with numerous services, including: physical and emotional recovery, therapeutic counseling, community reintegration, legal aid, and literacy, numeracy, and job training. The ultimate goal is to heal and build the resilience of the whole woman, her whole family, and her whole community, setting the entire region on a course towards lasting peace.
Panzi will use their Awesome Without Borders grant for Reintegration Kits, which every woman who graduates through their literacy, business skills, and vocational skills training program receives, which allows her to seed her microenterprise upon graduation. The kits themselves vary depending on the skill each woman selected to learn (e.g. If they are seamstresses, they receive a sewing machine and the supplies they need to take a first order). The grant will specifically help ten women get started in microenterprise. Awesome, right!?