Hats off to housemate Annabel for submitting an idea to the Month of Feminist Action! (Yes, you can submit one, too!) She was actually the first person to tell me about the City of Joy, a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo aiming to address the after-effects of the traumatic violence so many women have suffered. The name of the organization couldn't be clearer about the seriousness of the problem: STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE: Power To The Women And Girls Of The DRC. It's sponsored by UNICEF, Eve Ensler's V-Day, and the Panzi Foundation, an organization whose mission is "to raise awareness about the challenges in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and partner with Panzi Hospital to heal women and restore lives." Heart-rending statistics from the Panzi Foundation's website:
- It is estimated that there are over 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.
- From 2006 to 2007, an estimated 1,100 women were raped EVERY DAY.
- Today, it is estimated that 36 women and children are raped daily.
It's so hard to take that in.
The goal of the City of Joy is to "support women survivors of sexual violence to heal and provide them with opportunities to develop their leadership through innovative programming. Through its groundbreaking model, the City of Joy will provide up to 180 women a year with an opportunity to benefit from: group therapy; storytelling; dance; theater; self-defense; comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning); ecology and horticulture; and economic empowerment." They seem to have had a rocky first year, and they're so new it's obviously hard to tell what their ultimate impact will be. But the need couldn't be clearer. In addition to monetary donations, the City has a registry where you can provide them with everything from pencils to tables. Let's hope they're able to grow this program to help meet the needs of so many women and children in the DRC. The ultimate goal of the City is to "provide women a place to heal emotionally as they rebuild their lives, turn their pain to power, and return back into their communities to lead."