Friday, October 26, 2012

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Eve Ensler: Dr Denis Mukwege: we have few heroes in this world. He is one

Dr Denis Mukwege: we have few heroes in this world. He is one

Eve Ensler, a feminist and playwright behind The Vagina Monologues,
founded the City of Joy in Congo. She writes here about her hero, Dr
Denis Mukwege

Eve Ensler
The Guardian, Friday 26 October 2012 21.00 BST

On Thursday night, five armed men broke into the residence of
Congolese human rights activist Dr Denis Mukwege, founder of Panzi
hospital in Bukavu, DRC. After holding his two daughters and their
friend at gunpoint for half an hour, the armed men forced Dr Mukwege
out of his vehicle as he arrived at his residence. Dr Mukwege's
security guard tried to alert neighbours about the situation, but was
fatally shot at close range by the armed men. The gunmen then fired
more shots at Dr Mukwege, who narrowly escaped death by throwing
himself to the ground. The five men fled the scene in Dr Mukwege's
vehicle – their identity and whereabouts are unknown at the moment.

Who is Dr Denis Mukwege? He is the main street of hope for thousands
in eastern Congo. He has stayed in a warzone for 14 years and
practised medicine with bare medical resources and witnessed the
unbearable enacted on the vaginas and bodies of women day after day.
He has invented surgeries to meet the acts of cruelty and has helped
repair 30,000 rape victims. He has opened and maintained a hospital
providing ongoing care in a place with no roads, no water, no
electricity, minimal internet or phone and rampant insecurity.

He has driven Essence Road in Bukavu every day for years, a rutted
path that can take 40 minutes or four hours to navigate, depending on
the events or weather, just as he has travelled this planet speaking
again and again. He has told the excruciating stories of the rapes and
tortures over and over at the US Senate and White House, at the
European parliament, the Canadian parliament, at Downing Street, in
Brussels, in Paris and across the US.

He has done this and has been the head pastor at his church and a
teacher and a fundraiser and a mentor of hundreds of doctors and the
head of the Panzi Foundation, which is responsible for opening justice
centres and the City of Joy. Everything he does, he does with dignity,
kindness and composure. He is beloved. In any village in South Kivu,
his arrival is much like the arrival of the pope – throngs of people
greet him, thousands of women whose lives he has saved or healed or
touched celebrate him. We have few heroes in this world, few who have
given their lives and souls for the safety and health of their people.

Few who are driven by such purity of love and service. I stopped my
life when I met Dr Mukwege. I followed him to the DRC. His goodness,
his devotion to the women, made me more generous, compelled me to give
myself fully. A hero walks among us and his people.

Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, founded the City of Joy,
a centre for survivors of sexual violence in Bukavu with Denis Mukwege
and Christine Schuler-Deschryver

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
All rights reserved.

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