In October, 2008, as part of an internship, I traveled to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An orphan I spoke to said the most important people in his life were those who helped. When I asked him who helped, he said no one.
The subjects that Girl Be Heard have explored are wide-ranging. Race, sexual orientation, body image, drugs and alcohol, suicide, trafficking, child marriage and physical abuse are all themes on the agenda.
Congo's repeated history of violence, including rapes and other atrocities committed against civilian populations, with little to no prosecution and conviction, has encouraged a system of retribution and resorting to violence.
Today's political parties will meet this week in Congo's capital Kinshasa to discuss how they can bring unity to a country wracked by instability since its birth.
Since the first invasion, more than 5 million people have died in Congo, making it the deadliest conflict since the Second World War. And many of those deaths lie at the hands of the Rwandan government.
If Idjwi was going to get a clinic, the community itself had to build it. At first, many people resisted, insisting that they didn't have the money. But I told them, "You have sticks, you have mud, you have labor, and you have each other." And so it started.
The image of the face of the Congolese woman resting on the pink and blue blanket is grafted onto the frontal lobe of my brain -- the repository of my...
All of the recent M23 deserters interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that Rwandan soldiers, officers, and trainers were present throughout their time with the M23, and that there had been new arrivals from Rwanda in recent months.
Given the reports of U.N. supported FARDC rapes, desecrations and desertions, perhaps the U.N. working group on peacekeeping could focus more on the use of brain analysis of U.N. commanders rather than drone analysis of eastern Congo.
These trips fly by for me. It seems like I just get acclimated to the schedule, to the food (or lack thereof), to not sleeping (somehow I never sleep in Congo), to 18 hour days, and suddenly it's time to go home. And as I seem to always say, at the end of every trip, I feel sad to leave.
We have spent a week in Congo and my head is spinning. We visited 11 different programs and met with and talked to hundreds of people. Here are a few of my thoughts as we begin the two-day journey to come home
We leave Congo late afternoon today, and I truly will miss Amani and the Congolese people. Not only are they physically attractive with expressive, rounded dark eyes and beautifully shaped lips, but they are equally beautiful inside, full of kindness, sensitivity, and incredible passion about life.
The stories and the numbers of rapes have not abated, and his face reflects the stress of the last many years. But throughout it all, Dr. Mukwege finds hope.
Another woman explains how having access to protein has improved the nutrition for her small children and how she is able to provide her family with better and more plentiful vegetables because of animal by-product use.
The day was emotional, uplifting and inspiring, and made us all very, very proud. Just as they shared their stories with us, we shared ours with them.