I've written before about Dr. Mukwege on my blog and just had to write about him again tonight. I just read this post. And started crying. Maybe because for 4 1/2 years, this was my home town; I lived by that lake. Maybe because reading about the people coming out to celebrate his return and the joy that came with it, brings a rush of hope. Hope for change. Hope in his message, one of forgiveness and not violence. Hope for a better future. And love. The love of the people for a man that long ago could have left his work to others and worked somewhere safer where he could have made more money. Love of the people for a man who delves into the heart of one of the darkest horrors in that area of DRC and brings healing and hope, not only by the restoration of broken bodies, but by the day to day commitment and compassion he shows to women as he treats them with dignity and respect.
I've driven the road to Panzi hospital. It is a very narrow dirt road through the most congested and poorest area of the city. In the rainy season you slide all over and pray your vehicle doesn't hit anyone or another car (or a moto). You pray that the trucks don't hit you. You pass goats. You drive by sellers with small stands selling anything from books to raw meat. You are passed by large shipping trucks, small taxis, buses that are stuffed with people, and UN jeeps. In the rainy season, mud slides roll down the hillside and can sweep away shanty houses and huts. In the dry season, the dust is so thick you can barely see our your window and the 100s of people walking next to your vehicle are phantoms. On that road you can expect to be blocked by people protesting and then expect them to pound on the doors of your vehicle. You can expect to have the road cut off by those protests and have to turn around. On that road, I had my deepest crisis of faith. Yet, he and the other dedicated workers of Panzi hospital and places like City of Joy drive it every day.
Did you know that often Panzi hospital doesn't have water? Or that there isn't always electricity? Did you know there are roses growing in the open spaces between buildings? Or that there are 100s of women that gather outside together in the area of the hospital that treats rape victims?
I'll end with some quotes from his words he gave after he was attacked.
The dedicated and courageous staff who work at Panzi Hospital are scared, and my thoughts are with them. I want them to respond to this hatred with love because I think that it is the only way we can make a difference. If they continue to do what they do with love and care I have to believe that peace and justice will prevail. Violence can only create violence....
All the elements are there to put an end to an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war. Congolese women have a right to protection just as all the women on this planet. It is an honor for me to serve these courageous survivors, these women who resist, these women who despite all remain standing.
This is a link to the change.org petition to give your support for the 2013 Nobel Peace prize to go to Dr. Mukwege. I think it's time, don't you?