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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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Health and Healing for the Congo July 2011

Healing in the CongoThe Democratic of Republic Congo is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, but the women there are people, just like me, you, your sister, your daughter, your wife, or your grandmother. Here is the story of -- let's call her Lucille, to keep her privacy.

"My name is Lucille. I’m sixteen years old and I have a 9 month old son. I live with my parents. I got this child because I was taken forcibly. I was coming back from our field, and along the path I met a boy from our village that I knew well. I had stopped because it was raining, and he took me.

I didn’t know that I was pregnant. Only when people starting noticing that my pregnancy was showing was I convinced that I was really pregnant. I was in contact with HEAL Africa thanks to a lady who took me and told me to start going to meet other women. There they helped me with prenatal counseling and helped me take care of my pregnancy because I was in contact with people who understood me. When I delivered my baby, they gave me baby clothes for my baby and they paid the maternity fees for me. I felt I was in a new family.

I am also part of Wamama Simameni. I am learning to sew and I now know how to sew a shirt. We’re learning how to make the women’s traditional outfit. They are also teaching us how to make soap and bake bread. When I learn how to do all this, I think I will be able to take good care of my child."

The statistics say that we should multiply her story 1,100 times a day in Congo. On May 11, 2011, the American Journal of Public Health released a study placing the rates of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo much higher than previously thought – roughly 400,000 rapes every year. In spite of the continuing conflict, HEAL Africa works with communities in eastern Congo to prevent and to address the issues that cause rape. HEAL Africa has programs to prevent fistula, to reduce the effects of HIV, to provide counseling, surgery and medical care to women who have suffered rape, to teach new skills, to empower communities to protect the most vulnerable among them, and to create a generation that is aware of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Through them Lucille will receive medical care, counseling, community, education, and a chance for financial independence for her and her son. Earning her own income creates a revolutionary change in the life of a woman. It gives her dignity, status and an increased sense of value in her community.

That’s why we thank you so much for your donations which keep this work going.  We ask your help in spreading the word about HEAL Africa to others you may know who are interested in a grass-roots, long-term approach to helping people like Lucille become strong and savvy enough to help her own baby, and model concrete change to others in her village. Thank you for caring, and for acting!

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