In October our staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo marched with 250 International Trade Union Confederation members from more than 160 countries as well as female members of Congolese unions, and civil society groups. The mass rally aimed to denounce sexual and gender-based violence, and demand social justice for women in the DRC, where sexual violence has been employed as a weapon of war spreading fear, exacerbating ethnic tensions, and destabilizing communities.
The rally in Bukavu was a sea of color, with women from all over DRC and the world joining in the march. Dressed in bright clothes made especially for the occasion out of fabric covered in slogans, the participants demanded an end to SGBV. Young and old marched together as hundreds of women filled the streets to make their voices heard.
Since 1999, International Medical Corps has worked tirelessly to care for the countless women affected by the ongoing violence and unrest in the DRC. In many remote areas of North and South Kivu Provinces, International Medical Corps is the only international NGO that has maintained a permanent presence. Today, International Medical Corps supports 85 health facilities in the DRC, including 41 in North Kivu, 42 in South Kivu, and two in Maniema.
Our work providing care for women in DRC is possible because of our wonderful supporters – your generosity means the world to us.
As you know, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is very serious: since fighting began more than 20 years ago, more than 5 million people have died, millions more have been forced to flee their homes, and sexual violence is being used as a weapon to terrorize communities. This ongoing reality struck close to home when we recently responded and provided medical and psychosocial care to the survivors of the tragic August mass rape attacks in remote eastern Congo.
However, we are making progress in restoring health and hope to these communities. Since International Medical Corps opened, the Kalonge medical center last year, the medical staff has provided fistula repair to hundreds of women. Fistulas are a painful condition that results from complications during childbirth, and in rare instances, sexual violence. What’s more, in the past seven months alone, we provided more than 23,000 pre- and post-natal consultations to women and their babies. In addition, we provided care to more than 600 survivors of sexual violence.
Thank you so much for your past generosity. Thanks to supporters like you, we have been able to provide comprehensive medical care to thousands of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We look forward to your continued support in the future.
Over the past few months, International Medical Corps has made impressive strides towards improving maternal health care in Congo. Between September 2009 and February 2010, our skilled health workers conducted nearly 16,000 pre-natal consultations and more than 4,000 post-natal consultations in International Medical Corps -supported clinics in eastern DRC.
We’ve also recently opened a reproductive health clinic 25 miles north of Bukavu that will provide reproductive and maternal health care for more than 20,000 women in the region. This is the only rural facility in the region to provide fistula repair (fistula is a debilitating and painful condition, often caused by obstetric emergencies, as well as sexual violence, that leaves a woman incontinent and causes severe reproductive damage). Previously, women seeking medical care for fistula had to make an arduous trip, mostly on foot and through rebel-held territory, to Panzi Hospital in Bukavu.
International Medical Corps believes that providing quality medical services for women around the world not only saves lives but leads to healthier, more self-reliant communities. We are proud to consider you a partner in the fight to improve women’s health care.
You are supporting women like 16-year-old Beatrice, who delivered a baby in International Medical Corps’ Chambucha health center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following her safe delivery, Beatrice expressed her gratitude to one of our midwives. “I have seen many women who have fistula problems, and because of lack of services and stigma, they died in the villages,” she said. Fistula, a severe gynecological rupture that can occur during delivery, is just one of the health complications that arise when trained midwives are not available. With your generosity, more mothers like Beatrice are able to bring home healthy babies because they had the medical care they needed. Thank you for being a part of this vital campaign and know that you are making a profound difference in the lives of mothers and their children.
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