Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Congo - Heart of Darkness

Rwanda - The Heart of Africa - clean - proud - poverty - progressing - survivors - hope - help - inspiring - beautiful - magical - healing - tranquil - peace
Congo - Heart of Darkness - dirty - shame - extreme poverty - regressing - helpless - hopeless - violence - struggling- ignorance - fear - war

Going into the Democratic Republic of Congo is like entering Hell on Earth, harsh words but the truth. Over 400 tribes and over 400 languages. Lingala, Swahili, and french are the most common languages. Be sure you are inside by night fall, or the bandits will get you.......... I think sexual violence, war, and extreme poverty is normal there, to injure someone is not even a second thought, it's normal daily life. So how do we civilized people help change a destructive way of thinking that is so detrimental to its people.
The Congo is so very rich in it's resources, gold, diamonds, copper, nickel, tanzanite, so many minerals.
Rich dense forests, the Congo River, the Silverback Mountain Gorilla's that are killed and their hands are sold as ash trays. And the lowland Gorilla's live in danger too. In 1994 4.3 million people were killed. Many died from hunger. More died in the Congo in 1994 than the Vietnam War.
I stayed at a small B&B while in Bukavu, a city on beautiful Lake Kivu. Bukavu supplies the electricity for Rwanda and Burundi. Arriving on a Saturday, after trying for weeks to get someone to drive me there and no one would do it. I finally had friend's help me cross the border into a different world, than Rwanda. The streets were not paved, huge pot holes everywhere, you didn't drive on the left or right, it was where ever you could trying to miss a pot hole. Buildings torn and worn down. February 3, 2008 an earthquake was additional damage Bukavu didn't need. Poverty and disease was everywhere, dirty, trashy, slums, red dust in your hair, ears, and even mouth. I wondered why I wanted to be here???
I met Claude a pastor and the manager of the B&B who was friends with pastor and Dr. Denis Mukwege. He runs the Panzi Hospital in Le Mera, but his specialty is the trauma center for sexual violence. He has been helping women and children for over 10 years, that have been traumatized by sexual violence, it's used as a weapon of war. Rape is what many Congolese do when they get angry or don't get their way. Example: A man working as a gardener didn't feel his salary was sufficient, he didn't discuss this with the owners of the house, he raped their 6 month old baby, she died, he is in jail. He said he was angry they owed him so this is what they deserve. STOP THE VIOLENCE!!!!!
So Claude took me to meet Dr. Mukwege on Sunday, the following day of my arrival. There were many people at the gate to the hospital, we couldn't drive in. Claude got out to see what was going on, he said we can walk in. The energy was strange but it was strange from the beginning.
We get inside, and people are pushing and shoving me, Claude was about 7 heads in front of me. I caught up, then we were taken to a courtyard where there were rooms all around. Berky Dr. Mukwege's secretary took Claude and I into a room and locked the door. Also Eve Ensler was their advocating STOP THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN!!!

translation: "I'VE SAID NO TO RAPE, HAVE YOU?"
Story: Soldiers do not have a good reputation for helping and safety. They have a bad reputation for rape, stealing, bribery, so they are feared by the people. A man who makes uniforms for the soldiers, stole a uniform, a gun and a knife. He robbed a man beat him, stabbed him, and killed him. The victims family and community started beating up the man dressed as a soldier, thinking he was dead they left. His family arrived realized he was alive, took him to Panzi Hospital. The people and community heard he was at Panzi Hospital went to get him out so they could kill him, because he killed, they still think he is a real soldier. They were angry with the hospital for helping and protecting a bandit. Meanwhile, during the night or early morning the man dressed as a soldier died. When the crowd came to the hospital to get he body, Dr. Mukwege told them he had died. So then they wanted the body so they could burn it. Dr. Mukwege refused to give the body to these people, called the police several times, no response from the police. The angry crowd barged into rooms broke medical equipment, injured doctors, nurses, and interns. Several of the hospital staff walking around with huge bandages on their heads. I witnessed this violence. The hospital closed it's gates and no one was allowed to enter the grounds. The patients in the trauma clinic were traumatized thinking they were in a safe environment. Is there a safe place in the Congo today, I didn't seem to see or feel it. Dr. Mukwege decided to get his staff together and they would carry this man's dead body to the Governors house. On the way the crowd got angrier throwing stones, rocks, whatever they could find. Finally the police appeared because the rioting had now been taken into the streets. They shot several times, I don't think anyone was hit. But Dr. Mukwege finished his journey with the body to the Governor's house and laid him on his steps. True story swear to God!!!!

Me & Dr. Mukwege
Dr. Denis Mukwege is the founder and director of Panzi General Reform Hospital in Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he performs life-saving fistula surgeries for women who have been brutally raped and mutilated in the Congolese war. Dr. Mukwege is a doctor, a pastor, an advocate for women's rights, an advocate for educating men on the seriousness of rape and trauma, a gentle man, with a heart that is the light of the Sud of Kivu. It was a great honor to have had the opportunity to meet him and visit his clinic. He has devoted his life to helping these women and young girls that have been traumatized by sexual violence. He treats thousands of women a year. The physical and emotional scars these women bear is heartbreaking, and inhumane. This is war, war against women and girls.
There's so much here that I will never understand. What I have seen on the fields of war has led me to question God's purpose. But there is something......... spiritual in this place. And though it may be forever obscure to me I cannot but be aware of it's power.

I met one of the women I sponsor, Devotee, in Walungu a village south of Bukavu. I felt safe going there, but later heard rebels or bandits were in the area. Devotee was very sick with Malaria, she's 22 years old.
She has 2 boys one 4 years and he other 2 years. She was very weak, but had the strength to smile and gratitude I was there. I think we do what we can till our destiny is revealed to us. I do not presume to understand the course of my life. I know I am grateful to have partake in all this.....even if for a moment.

Many villages, many people suffering, hungry, tired, helpless, and hopeless.
The Congo's infrastructure is the country's main problem. After Sese Seko Mobutu ruled as dictator for 32 years (1965–1997) he went into exile to Morocco Lawrence Kabila became president, he was for justice and wanted to help his people. He was assassinated in 2000, an American Ambassador to the Congo was the last person to see Lawrence Kabila - within one hour he was dead. His son Joseph Kabila became president in 2000. He was reelected in 2006. He is not like his father. He pockets his peoples money, takes bribes and is a fearful and worthless leader. He took 26 million dollars from his people and built homes around the world. When authorities questioned this he gave the judge 2 million dollars and....... the end.

Many rebel groups have formed (about 50 through out the DRC) in the deep forests of the Congo, the Mai Mai, the Interhamwe (hutus from Rwanda's genocide), the Rasta, Nkunda a very evil man dressed in riches, and Joseph Kony has moved from Northern Uganda to build an army in the Congo, the devil is in hell. Nkunda & Kony are wanted by the UN for War Crimes against Humanity. Then the Congolese soldiers are as dangerous and corrupt as the above mentioned.
All of these rebels go into villages, burn the houses, rape the women and girls, take them into the forest to gang rape them daily for months, years, till they can no longer be used for sex because their vagina's and internal organs are destroyed. Send them down into the villages, many times pregnant, where they are rejected by their families. They end up in trauma clinics or centers for sexual violence. They take the boys and make them soldiers, by having them kill their families. The boys are desensitized and given drugs and alcohol so they can murder again and again and again. But some run away and if they make it, they are in centers or churches, getting counseling and hoping to one day have a normal life. How can life ever be normal after these experiences? I guess they transform from victims to survivors and help others to recover. I went to 2 of these centers, one North, that had 300 women and boys, it had been attacked by rebels a few weeks ago and they were traumatized all over again. How can we as individuals, come together to help change take place, to help women and children feel safe. To let them know it was not their faults, they were a victim to hideous crimes of war. Search for organizations that are helping the people of the Congo, now that you are aware, you are responsible as I am. No one should endure being tortured!!!
Final insight: Democratic Republic of Congo the country of riches, her land has been raped by her people, her people have been raped by her people. May the Congo find a way to live in peace and harmony. May the tribes live equally. May the rebel militias be arrested and tried for their crimes against humanity of sexual violence, mutilation, and murder.
May the survivors of sexual violence become strong, gain self esteem and live with honor and dignity as a survivor. I pray for their safety, I pray for their sanity, I pray for their lives. I must devote myself to a set of moral principles...........to seek a stillness of my mind. It is the only way for me to enter these places and return. I've changed, I am a warrior for truth, equality, and justice for every living being on our planet. May we all find compassion in our hearts and peace in our minds.


Giedra said...

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sonya melescu said...

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