The Mayo team currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo sent us the below text:
We had a great night’s sleep after a warm welcome on Saturday night from Eve Ensler and Christine DeSchryver. These two women, in partnership with Dr. Mukwege, are the most formidable and compassionate force against the sexual violence in the DRC. Eve is the founder of V-day which casts the mold for a streamlined and effective foundation. She has devoted her life to fighting violence against women across the world, but her main focus for the last four years has been DRC. Christine heads the V-day office in Bukavu, and together they are building the City of Joy in the City of Panzi – more on this later. Christine grew up in DRC. Her father was a conservationist who founded the beautiful Kahuzi-Biega gorilla reserve. He was the first human to gain the trust of gorillas. When the war came, Carlos, Christine’s husband who is Swiss but has lived in DRC for 23 years, stayed behind to try to protect the gorillas. Christine and Carlos have stayed when so many have left DRC. They are the quiet, unassuming heroes of this city. Everyone knows them, everyone comes to them for help and advice. Children follow Mama Christine wherever she goes, and we came to realize without her ever mentioning it that she pays the school fees and other expenses for hundreds of children in Bukavu.
We attended a service at Dr. Mukwege’s church this morning. The enthusiasm was mixed before we arrived because of the prospect of a 2 ½ hour service, but the time flew by. Even our surgeon dudes were dancing and singing in Swahili by the end of the service.
We then returned to Coco Lodge to meet with Dr. Mukwege, Christine, and Eve and plan the outline of our week.
We went for a run/walk along the shore of Lake Kivu – before the war started, it was considered the Mediterranean of the DRC, with beautiful hills rising up from blue water.