I have thought about the women we met in the DRC every day since we returned.
I think about what they are doing right at this moment. If they had nightmares last night about what happened to them, if they have eaten today, if they have managed to pay the fees for their children to attend school this week, whether they are safe.
I wonder how I would be coping if I was dragged from my home one night and taken to the forest and kept as a sex slave for seven months, or if my children were forced to watch me being raped and were then shot in front of me, or if my husband and his family rejected me after I had been raped by militia because they believed I was cursed and had brought it on myself.
I can’t really comprehend it of course. Apart from the fact that I am neither married or have children, who can understand what it is like unless they have been through it?
It is difficult to know what to do now, armed with these stories of horror. I think it is fair to say that the five of us feel that this is only the beginning of something, that we must do more, that we have a responsibility to tell as many people as possible about what we saw and heard.
But also, it is clear that there is hope for these women. The transformation in their lives since they have been helped by Women for Women International cannot be overstated.
I have been typing up the women’s stories today and one line in particular stays with me.
Generose, whose sponsor in America came to visit her, says: “Somebody from far away who comes to Congo just to help me, to pay my medical bills, to give me a house to live in, for me this is a miracle. I have regained hope in my life.”
I signed up to sponsor a woman in Congo today. It’s a tiny thing to do, but it means everything to the women out there. To know that miles away from the DRC, there are other women and men thinking of them, gives them comfort and hope. What greater gift could there be?