01 June 2015

Non-profit

Crisis in the Congo

When I was recently sent to photograph a campaign against violence in schools in the north Kivu area for the Global Fund for Women I thought that maybe it was a matter of bullying. What I discovered was an alarming crisis in the Congo. Although it is illegal, beating is very common in the schools. These are beatings so severe that recently a girl in secondary school was beaten to death by her teacher.

What is most alarming are the young girls that are being raped especially in secondary schools. These girls are being coerced into having sex with their teachers by being told that they can’t stay in school or won’t pass their class if they don’t have sex with them, or the teacher will violently have his way with the girl. Then when they do succumb to the teacher he ignores the girl or kicks her out of class anyway so he doesn’t get caught.

Many of these girls are becoming pregnant by their own teachers, they are forced leave school and these children are having babies as result of these rapes. Often their families will abandon them out of shame so they have no support, leaving them to be vulnerable for more abuse or rape. One headmaster raped a young girl in 6th form and when they tried to convict him he ran away. There is little justice for these girls.

Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women. Stop violence in schools campaign by the PAIF organization project. Immaculee Birkhaheka, founder of PAIF project. Kisonga Matondo (17 yrs). I am an orphan. My mother died when I was 3 months, my father when I was 8. At age 13 I was raped by my 52-year-old teacher while in secondary school. He put has hand over my mouth and used some kind of drug. When I came to I was covered in blood. I was afraid to tell anyone but I became pregnant--- my first baby is now 4 years old. The school did nothing. One day I accepted a ride from a man who gave me ride in his car because it was raining. He raped me. This baby is my second from a rape. When I became pregnant he took me in but beat me everyday, and I suffered so much. I soon discovered that I was his sixth wife and this was his 8th child so I left when this baby was one month old. I had no one to take care of me until I met with PAIF. PAIF will help me to take my husband to court and sue him but if they lose he will find me and kill me. There is no justice in this country.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Hotel Cap Kivu. Global Fund for Women. Stop violence in schools campaign by the PAIF organization project. Immaculee Birkhaheka, founder of PAIF project. Kisonga Matondo (17 yrs). I am an orphan. My mother died when I was 3 months, my father when I was 8. At age 13 I was raped by my 52-year-old teacher while in secondary school. He put has hand over my mouth and used some kind of drug. When I came to I was covered in blood. I was afraid to tell anyone but I became pregnant— my first baby is now 4 years old. The school did nothing. One day I accepted a ride from a man who gave me ride in his car because it was raining. He raped me. This baby is my second from a rape. When I became pregnant he took me in but beat me everyday, and I suffered so much. I soon discovered that I was his sixth wife and this was his 8th child so I left when this baby was one month old. I had no one to take care of me until I met with PAIF. PAIF will help me to take my husband to court and sue him but if they lose he will find me and kill me. There is no justice in this country.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women. Stop violence in schools campaign by the PAIF organization project. Immaculee Birkhaheka, founder of PAIF project. Kisonga Matondo (17 yrs). I am an orphan. My mother died when I was 3 months, my father when I was 8. At age 13 I was raped by my 52-year-old teacher while in secondary school. He put has hand over my mouth and used some kind of drug. When I came to I was covered in blood. I was afraid to tell anyone but I became pregnant--- my first baby is now 4 years old. The school did nothing. One day I accepted a ride from a man who gave me ride in his car because it was raining. He tied my hands behind my back and raped me. This baby is my second from a rape. When I became pregnant he took me in but beat me everyday, and I suffered so much. I soon discovered that I was his sixth wife and this was his 8th child so I left when this baby was one month old. I had no one to take care of me until I met with PAIF. PAIF will help me to take my husband to court and sue him but if they lose he will find me and kill me. There is no justice in this country.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Hotel Cap Kivu. Global Fund for Women. Stop violence in schools campaign by the PAIF organization project. Immaculee Birkhaheka, founder of PAIF project. Kisonga Matondo (17 yrs). I am an orphan. My mother died when I was 3 months, my father when I was 8. At age 13 I was raped by my 52-year-old teacher while in secondary school. He put has hand over my mouth and used some kind of drug. When I came to I was covered in blood. I was afraid to tell anyone but I became pregnant— my first baby is now 4 years old. The school did nothing. One day I accepted a ride from a man who gave me ride in his car because it was raining. He raped me. This baby is my second from a rape. When I became pregnant he took me in but beat me everyday, and I suffered so much. I soon discovered that I was his sixth wife and this was his 8th child so I left when this baby was one month old. I had no one to take care of me until I met with PAIF. PAIF will help me to take my husband to court and sue him but if they lose he will find me and kill me. There is no justice in this country.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women. Stop violence in schools campaign by the PAIF organization project. Kisonga Matondo (17 yrs) is an orphan, her mother died at 3 months, her father when she was 8. At 13 she was raped by her 52 yr old teacher while in secondary school. She was afraid to tell anyone but she became pregnant, her baby is now 4 yrs old. The school did nothing. One day she was picked up by a man in his car, working on the boat transport system, who gave her a ride in the rain. He raped her. The baby she is holding is her second from a rape. When she became pregnant her took her in but beat her everyday, and she discovered she was his sixth wife and this was his 8th child. "I suffered suffered suffered, but  had no one to take care of me until I met with PAIF." PAIF will help to sue her husband but if they lose he will kill her. There is no justice in this country.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Hotel Cap Kivu. Global Fund for Women. Stop violence in schools campaign by the PAIF organization project. Kisonga Matondo (17 yrs) is an orphan, her mother died at 3 months, her father when she was 8. At 13 she was raped by her 52 yr old teacher while in secondary school. She was afraid to tell anyone but she became pregnant, her baby is now 4 yrs old. The school did nothing. One day she was picked up by a man in his car, working on the boat transport system, who gave her a ride in the rain. He raped her. The baby she is holding is her second from a rape. When she became pregnant her took her in but beat her everyday, and she discovered she was his sixth wife and this was his 8th child. “I suffered suffered suffered, but had no one to take care of me until I met with PAIF.” PAIF will help to sue her husband but if they lose he will kill her. There is no justice in this country.

I photographed safe houses or shelters for the women and girls who have suffered gender based violence. There are women who are simply performing the daily activity of fetching water or collecting firewood in the forest when they are attacked and raped by often by the men who are meant to protect them police or soldiers. They do not want to tell their husbands but sometimes they are so badly beaten and injured they have to be hospitalized. Many times these women and girls become pregnant and produce children from the rape. Their husbands will abandon then for the fear AIDS or the stigma of raising someone else’s baby. These women have no recourse, no justice.
I have recently donated to PAIF to help support these safe houses for the girls and women through my Faces of Hope Fund. To find out more please visit www.facesofhope.org.

Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Hotel Cap Kivu. Global Fund for Women. PAIF project. Dusabe Tumaini (32 years), Rehema (baby, one week). I’m from Masis in the Congo, where 90% of the women are raped and many people are killed everyday. There’s no presence of government there, only bandits, locals carrying guns. I was married with 7 children. One day I went into the forest to collect firewood and I was attacked and raped by four men in military uniforms. They left me to die but some local villagers found me and brought me to a hospital. I didn’t want anyone to know I had been raped but it was soon discovered that I was pregnant. When my husband found out I was raped he ran away and left me with the 7 children. He was afraid of AIDS. And when he found out I was pregnant he didn’t want to raise someone else’s baby. Eventually his family and our pastor talked him into returning. Rehema was born a week ago. Now we say we have 7 children and this one. My husband said at least it’s girl, she can be useful and work and bring in cows when she marries.  PAIF has helped to move away from that terrible area and we now live in their temporary housing in Goma. Because we’re displaced people the children don’t go to school.  My life changed that day I went to collect firewood in the forest.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Hotel Cap Kivu. Global Fund for Women. PAIF project. Dusabe Tumaini (32 years), Rehema (baby, one week). I’m from Masis in the Congo, where 90% of the women are raped and many people are killed everyday. There’s no presence of government there, only bandits, locals carrying guns. I was married with 7 children. One day I went into the forest to collect firewood and I was attacked and raped by four men in military uniforms. They left me to die but some local villagers found me and brought me to a hospital. I didn’t want anyone to know I had been raped but it was soon discovered that I was pregnant. When my husband found out I was raped he ran away and left me with the 7 children. He was afraid of AIDS. And when he found out I was pregnant he didn’t want to raise someone else’s baby. Eventually his family and our pastor talked him into returning. Rehema was born a week ago. Now we say we have 7 children and this one. My husband said at least it’s girl, she can be useful and work and bring in cows when she marries.
PAIF has helped to move away from that terrible area and we now live in their temporary housing in Goma. Because we’re displaced people the children don’t go to school. My life changed that day I went to collect firewood in the forest.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Tumaini Gentile, (20 years). I was 15 years old and out collecting firewood when a DRC government soldier raped me. Now that child is four years old. Two years ago someone else abused me and that resulted in another baby. Here I’m learning sewing and, it’s good way to support myself as well as watch my children. I received a sewing machine from the GFW grant to work on at home and will buy the locally made base for $30. I can make 4 uniforms in two days and earn $3-5 each. Even my brothers are learning from me.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Tumaini Gentile, (20 years). I was 15 years old and out collecting firewood when a DRC government soldier raped me. Now that child is four years old. Two years ago someone else abused me and that resulted in another baby. Here I’m learning sewing and, it’s good way to support myself as well as watch my children. I received a sewing machine from the GFW grant to work on at home and will buy the locally made base for $30. I can make 4 uniforms in two days and earn $3-5 each. Even my brothers are learning from me.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Jeanine Nionsaba (30 years) with her baby. My husband died in a car accident in 2008 and I was left to take care of two children on my own. I had no place to live so I stayed with my cousin. One day I was out in the woods collecting firewood when I was approached by a man with a machete. He raped me. I told no one. Then I discovered I was pregnant and this is the baby resulting from the rape. My neighbor directed me to PAIF and now I stay here in this shelter and I’m learning literacy as well as sewing while my baby stays in their kindergarten (45 children from ages 1-6). The shelter is run by solar power obtained by a small fund from GFW. There’s no running water, water is collected on the roof from rain. Sewing is taught as an income generating project, GFW also supplied a small grant for the sewing machines that women are able to bring home to work on.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Jeanine Nionsaba (30 years) with her baby. My husband died in a car accident in 2008 and I was left to take care of two children on my own. I had no place to live so I stayed with my cousin. One day I was out in the woods collecting firewood when I was approached by a man with a machete. He raped me. I told no one. Then I discovered I was pregnant and this is the baby resulting from the rape. My neighbor directed me to PAIF and now I stay here in this shelter and I’m learning literacy as well as sewing while my baby stays in their kindergarten (45 children from ages 1-6). The shelter is run by solar power obtained by a small fund from GFW. There’s no running water, water is collected on the roof from rain. Sewing is taught as an income generating project, GFW also supplied a small grant for the sewing machines that women are able to bring home to work on.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Jeanine Nionsaba (30 years) with her baby. My husband died in a car accident in 2008 and I was left to take care of two children on my own. I had no place to live so I stayed with my cousin. One day I was out in the woods collecting firewood when I was approached by a man with a machete. He raped me. I told no one. Then I discovered I was pregnant and this is the baby resulting from the rape. My neighbor directed me to PAIF and now I stay here in this shelter and I’m learning literacy as well as sewing while my baby stays in their kindergarten (45 children from ages 1-6). The shelter is run by solar power obtained by a small fund from GFW. There’s no running water, water is collected on the roof from rain. Sewing is taught as an income generating project, GFW also supplied a small grant for the sewing machines that women are able to bring home to work on.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu. Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Jeanine Nionsaba (30 years) with her baby. My husband died in a car accident in 2008 and I was left to take care of two children on my own. I had no place to live so I stayed with my cousin. One day I was out in the woods collecting firewood when I was approached by a man with a machete. He raped me. I told no one. Then I discovered I was pregnant and this is the baby resulting from the rape. My neighbor directed me to PAIF and now I stay here in this shelter and I’m learning literacy as well as sewing while my baby stays in their kindergarten (45 children from ages 1-6).
The shelter is run by solar power obtained by a small fund from GFW. There’s no running water, water is collected on the roof from rain. Sewing is taught as an income generating project, GFW also supplied a small grant for the sewing machines that women are able to bring home to work on.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu,  Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Kahindo Kanyeret, lived as a displaced refugee for years in Uganda, with 8 children no husband. She learns to braid hair as a source of income and practices on 15 year old Ndole Jeanette. It's also a way to make women feel beautiful again after the demeaning horrors of being raped.
Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu, Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. The land was bought with GFW grant. Kahindo Kanyeret, lived as a displaced refugee for years in Uganda, with 8 children no husband. She learns to braid hair as a source of income and practices on 15 year old Ndole Jeanette. It’s also a way to make women feel beautiful again after the demeaning horrors of being raped.

Africa, DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma, Lake Kivu,  Global Fund for Women project. PAIF organization safe house shelter for women in Mugunga. Hair braiding is taught as a source of income. It's also a way to make women feel beautiful again after the demeaning horrors of being raped.

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2 comments

  1. Jeremy Woodhouse

    Good work Alison!

  2. Nathanael

    I hope that the war is going to end in North Kivu and that the people there can live in peace witouht heaving fear for rebel troups. So we can continue our work there for Medics Without Borders in the rehabilitation centre Chirica la Umaja in Goma, Helping the disabled and sick children who need medical and paramedical care.

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