News / Africa

Rebuilding Lives after War and Rape in the DRC

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, many families have been battered by war, rape, poverty and a lack of education.  However, a humanitarian group says there’s a way to help families not only deal with the issues, but rise above them.

The eastern DRC has become synonymous with war and rape.  In recent years, various rebel groups have attacked and looted villages, driving civilians into the bush to escape.  Attempts by government forces and U.N. troops to defeat them have often made matters worse for civilians, as militias launch retaliatory strikes against villagers.  But many aid groups working in the region have blamed all warring parties for attacks on civilians.

Weapon of war

Rape is a weapon of war in the Congo.  It’s done to subdue, demoralize and humiliate populations.  And it spreads HIV/AIDS.  The attacks often occur in front of family members.  Many women are so brutally assaulted they need surgery to repair the damage.  But it doesn’t always work.  And then there’s the psychological damage.

In Goma FXB founder Albina du Boisrouvray, meets with a woman benefiting from aid program
In Goma FXB founder Albina du Boisrouvray, meets with a woman benefiting from aid program

In the Goma area, the FXB Foundation has created a village of hope and healing, but not one that you would find on any map.  FXB founder Albina du Boisrouvray says it’s a village nonetheless.

“It’s a network of 80 families in the same region.  It’s not a real village.  It’s a virtual village in a way because we don’t take people who are neighbors next door to each other,” she says

She says families must meet certain criteria.

“We choose in a community the 80 poorest, most destitute families, who have the reputation of being the most hardworking and honest ones in the community.  And those who have the most children to raise,” she says.

She says some in the program have experienced unimaginable hardships.

“One woman comes to mind of those I have visited, who was a woman who has been raped six times, has a kid from one of those rapes, has a daughter who she’s taken in with her, who also has a kid from the rapes.  That means that in the little hovel – nine people living in there,” she says.

When the woman first joined, du Boisrouvray says she was emaciated.  She now weighs 48 kilos.  Food is a big part of the program.

“We bring bags of rice, of beans, of flour, whatever. (The) usual food staples these people eat and enough quantity for the whole family.  We also bring them immediately basic lessons of hygiene.  Usually we try to build latrines, first thing,” she says.

A better life

In the first year of the FXB program, a family’s broken shelter is repaired as best as possible.

Rebuilding Lives after War and Rape in the DRC
Rebuilding Lives after War and Rape in the DRC

“The second year we’ll try to get that person with their savings to be able to get out of that hovel.  Now with the savings that you have you should be trying to get a little piece of land.  At least rent it if you can’t buy it.  And then we will get other people, other families, other volunteers or our people to help you build your house, which will be a much more solid house,” she says.

How do they go about saving money?  Du Boisrouvray says FXB helps families start small income generating activities.  In rural areas, it may be growing food on small plots of land and selling it.  Families may be given pigs or chickens.  In more urban areas, families may receive sewing machines.

She says mental health is just as important as physical health.

‘We just give them psychosocial counseling by helping them regain their self assurance and their dignity as human beings.  I think that’s a very important component,” he says.

Change comes quickly.

“And you see the difference,” she says, “When you see people in the first few months when they’ve been picked and taken in, they have their heads down.  They look miserable.  They’re ashamed.  Even a few months later they’re standing up more erect.”

The women tell FXB they no longer worry about how they’re going to feed their families.

Women who’ve been raped are tested for HIV.  If they test positive, they’re counseled on how to live with the disease.

Du Boisrouvray says the program succeeds because it wins the trust of the Congolese people.

“I work with only local people.  I don’t have any expats (expatriates) coming in and saying, look, this is what we feel you should be doing. It’s their own peers.  I mean all the social workers and the nurses. So these are local people who they know, local people who they trust,” she says.

The FXB virtual village also ensures children get into local schools, paying any fees if necessary.  The foundation runs many programs in Africa and elsewhere around the world, many of them providing assistance to AIDS orphans and vulnerable children.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid