Congo Visit

by Belinda Munoz on January 23, 2012

My bags are packed. In a few hours, I’ll be on my way to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo — dubbed as the rape capital of the world by a U.N. Special Representative. In the DRC today, 48 occurrences of rape take place every hour. “The message is important and clear: Rape in [Congo] has metastasized amid a climate of impunity, and has emerged as one of the great human crises of our time”, said Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

I’ve written about the Congo several times here; once was when I first heard V-Day’s always-fabulous Eve Ensler speak about City of Joy. City of Joy, run by Christine Schuler Deschryver, is a special place, currently in its pilot year, where women survivors of sexual violence come to heal, rebuild and turn pain to power. In a few days, I will bear witness to this amazing reality that was once a dream. I, along with eight other San Francisco Bay Area women, will be celebrating sisterhood and graduation day with these incredible Congolese women.

I am also excited to meet a legendary woman named Masika Katsuva, a mother figure to more than 6000 women and children she has nursed back to life. Masika’s story of survival is quite brutal, but if you’re interested in reading about it, you can find it below.

I am very much looking forward to being in the presence of these Congolese women; to hear their voices and their songs, to see their faces and their smiles, to feel their spirit, warmth and rhythm. In addition, V-Day and Human Rights Watch have packed our days with what I’m sure will be memorable and life-changing experiences. My hope is that I will be able to be fully present for and effectively process these experiences so that I can share some of them in writing here when I return.

Wish me luck!


Additional materials if you’re interested:

Human Rights Watch reports on the DRC

A moving film that focuses on Masika’s work called Field of Hope

Masika’s work

Masika’s story (Note: graphic details included. Best to skip if you have a weak stomach.)

The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (2008)

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ayala January 23, 2012 at 5:21 am

What a wonderful expierance for you, Belinda. I wish you good luck and a safe trip, and I wish your heart sings through your journey.


2 Anisi from Santa Fe January 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

Belinda you have such exciting adventures! This will be something never to be forgotten. I will be thinking of you the whole time. God bless you on your journey and I will watch for your posts about this amazing trip!


3 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri January 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

Much luck Belinda. Thanks for constantly raising our awareness. I feel privileged to have intersected with you. xoxo


4 Mama Zen January 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

I can’t wait to hear all about it! Be safe!


5 Kim Nelson January 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

Blessings and success to you! What an opportunity. Hearing about the Congo from your current perspective will be fascinating. Looking forward to updates.


6 Sara January 24, 2012 at 9:21 am


Wow. I’m impressed. It’s not often you meet someone who actually visits the places she talks about, especially when it’s not a typical vacation spot. Kudos’s to you for living your words:~) Have a safe trip and I look forward to reading about this.


7 Talon January 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Belinda, safe travels. I can’t wait to hear of your experiences.


8 Madeleine Begun Kane January 25, 2012 at 12:29 am

Good luck and have a great trip!


9 Cheryl Paris January 26, 2012 at 6:14 am

Sounds like a wonderful experience Belinda and I’m sure it will be life-changing. I wish you all the best and I look forward to reading all about it on your return. Take care!
Bye for now.


10 Cathy January 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Oh I am late but I hope your trip is everything you hope for. Good luck!


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