Rape is one of the most powerful weapons deployed in the prolonged conflict in the eastern DRC. It not only damages bodies but also tears apart lives and communities. For women and girls who survive, medical assistance is critical but rarely sufficient. Long-term recovery also requires a safe space where women start to heal their bodies, minds and souls. HEAL Africa, which has provided care for 15,000 women and girls since 1996, provides comprehensive services to survivors of gender violence.
With 300 counselors, HEAL Africa runs 28 community houses (Wamama Simameni, or Women Stand Up Together) in North Kivu and Maniema where survivors go after surgery for food, shelter, psychosocial support, economic assistance and cultural activities.
Guided by artists and facilitators, women learn to externalize their pain and speak freely with peers about the social problems they face. They also discuss women’s rights and their role in the peace process, gaining tools to build social stability.