Each year, International Women’s Day is recognized on 08 March. At HEAL Africa, we take advantage of the full month to appreciate, recognize, and empower women. In Africa, the woman is the core of the family and the fabric which upholds society. The woman, therefore, is the driving force behind our development priorities in the community.
We celebrate the one who gives life!
This year we opened the celebration with a free cervix cancer screening campaign as a gift to the Congolese women of Goma, at the HEAL Africa Hospital. A conference on menopause by Dr Christina Enzmann from the USA was held. As life expectancy for Congolese women is beginning to change, a discussion on menopause is critical! The women at HEAL Africa conducted a fundraiser, and games were organized with the intention of team building for female staff.
She is at the center of our activities.
We continue to celebrate the impact of one important woman, our late Lyn Lusi, Co-founder of HEAL Africa. Her compassion and organizational skills created a culture and structure at HEAL Africa that centers around (re)building dignity for women. For several decades HEAL Africa has advocated empowering Congolese women, who have been undermined by society, past and present.
Used as a weapon of war in the still fragile eastern part of DR Congo, rape has pushed Congolese women into the deepest shame. Twice a widow after the massacres in the Beni region, a woman recently asked herself, “Is there still the slightest advantage to being a woman in DR Congo?” One of the ways HEAL Africa is responding by working to restore the status of women through the WAMAMA SIMAMENI program. These “women stand up” sites, located throughout North Kivu, are vocational training sites aimed at empowering women while providing them with much-needed psychosocial therapy.
Destitution deprives the Congolese woman of her right to safe and affordable health care. With the help of its partners, HEAL Africa provides them with care in their villages through outreach projects and partnerships with local clinics. “She earns five US dollars to deliver in a hospital, let’s not ask her for five hundred dollars to get a remedy,” said Dr. Justin Paluku, obstetrician-gynecologist and fistula surgeon at HEAL Africa Hospital.
Fun and charitable activities for women
Women wear many hats at HEAL Africa and consequently undergo a lot of stress. Throughout the day the women work on improving the living conditions of their peers, who are family to them. Conferences, seminars, games, friendly competitions, and dance were organized to energize the women and their dedication.
As a tertiary level hospital, HEAL Africa receives complicated gynecological cases, premature babies from other health facilities in the region, trauma cases, and deformities of all kinds, primarily from very poor families. In partnership with other organizations operating in Goma, HEAL Africa came to the aid of many of these families in need. The intention was to encourage and provide relief to women, who are the primary caregivers of their families–and responsible for the coordination of the family’s health care.
Dozens of women have come to HEAL Africa in tears because they have been raped. Each year thousands of women face shame, stigma, and dishonor because it is condoned by societal norms. On a daily basis our staff of women doctors, nurses, psychosocial assistants, provide care and often bear the pain of her oppressed sisters. And so on this month, we provided opportunities for women to relax and have fun together, and away from the hospital to limit pressures from work.