Inspiring work to support women affected by gender-based violence in the conflict in DRC is being organised by the Diocese of Bukavu in Eastern Congo.
Located in the heart of the humanitarian crisis, the Diocese covers the province of south Kivu and parts of North Kivu where soldiers and rebels gang-rape women as part of the vicious conflict. Women are also beaten up, mutilated and killed, and girls as young as six years old have also been attacked and sexually assaulted.
For the women the consequences are:
– Infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
– Unwanted pregnancies
– Severe psychological trauma
– Abandonment and rejection by their husbands and by their families and communities
– Separation from their families
The Anglican Church in Goma is running a programme to become an ecumenical community of women and men affirmed, reconciled, equipped, encouraged and capable of facing the challenges of the conflict. It provides the following services:
– Spiritual support to provide the space for people to open up and speak about their suffering and trauma, and to help them overcome shame and stigma, to forgive and move on.
– Medical care for women who are referred to the centre. When a woman arrives, the church staff take her to hospital, providing transport as necessary, to be tested for HIV, pregnancy and other medical conditions. The church also provides medical care, including medicines.
– Income generation through skills training courses in agriculture, animal husbandry, commerce, tailoring, catering, plastic basket production and sugar cane processing. It also has a micro-credit scheme and an adult literacy project. These projects can be accessedby women who have physical impairments, who are HIV positive, widows and those abandoned by their husbands. In the past year 453 women have taken courses and established 13 local women’s associations in rural and urban areas.
– Reconciliation and counselling for couples to bring together families that have been torn apart by the conflict and the gender-based violence. It especially aims at reconciling couples.
– Relief for internally displaced people at two centres, providing food and shelter.
For a full story on this inspiring work, see the Anglican Alliance website. As this is a response to a conflict-related emergency, an appeal for the project will be posted shortly.