It took me a long time, but I made it. I am happily settled in Bukavu getting started with my work with AFEM-SK (the association of women of the media of South Kivu), with whom I will finally be working this summer.
I had to stop in four countries, drive through two other countries and undertake the (sadly too often) complicated situation of passing the border six times but it was worth it because I met three charming gentlemen, Walter and Ned, Peace Fellows of the DR Congo and Isidord, their housemate. They came to pick me up to Bujumbura and since then we had long conversations about the Congo, the national health system in the U.S, Haiti, Spanish food and many other issues; we shared food, walks in the Lac Tanganyka, we saw hippos and finally, they helped me to find my way to Bukavu… It´s been such a great trip because their eyes are wide open, the are ready to understand and speak out; their work in Uvira is very interesting as they are supporting local organisations that work against gender based sexual violence in very difficult conditions, exposed to danger in a great manner and developping an emotionally hard work.
Right now, I am sitting in a desk in the bureau that AFEM-SK has in the city centre; here, they meet, they develop their projects, they prepare their materials before broadcasting and they get ready for the interventions that they will adress thoughout the whole province of the Sud Kivu. For the last four years they have been working on research and awareness-raising in the different regions of the province of Sud Kivu. They have been interviewing victims of sexual violence in order to understand the scale of the impact of sexual violence and they have produced numerous radio shows including the testimonies of victims and the opinions of experts and members of the civil society of Bukavu with the purpose of having an effective reponse from the local and national authorities.
Bukavu, a massive and messy city located in the unique scene of the Lake Kivu shores, is somehow charming. I really can not complain at all, because I am living in a lovely house on the Lake shore with great views of the mountains, the city and the MONUC boats! Work wise it is also very easy because the girls of AFEM are very talented and courageous, surprinsingly young, very prepared and very loud. In the next weeks we will be writing a project to apply fo funding to continue with the work of advocacy because the situation of women and the problem of sexual violence is far from solved. As the journalists of AFEM-SK report, the last figures speak about more than one million of victims of rape and other kinds of gender based sexual violence in the DRC; in Sud Kivu the attacks to civilians and the sexual harrassment to women continues, intensifying the under-reported humanitarian crisis of Eastern Congo. The women of AFEM have “broken the silence” with their campaigns but there is still a dense silence of the international media… so here we are, we have come to shout loud!
Posted By Elisa Garcia
Posted Jul 9th, 2009