RESOURCE: Field of Hope

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, every hour in the day some 48 women are raped. That is around 1,100 rapes a day, leaving many thousands of women and children with broken lives and little hope for their futures.

But one woman, herself a rape survivor, is helping to change some of these lives for the better. Masika has set up a place where rape survivors can get support, counselling and, uniquely, start to make a living.

With bits and pieces of money she raises, Masika rents a field where the women sow, tend and harvest crops, giving them an income as well as a sense of purpose and direction after their traumas.

The women, and also their children born of rape, are often hated, abandoned and abused further, but with remarkable compassion Masika takes in yet more abused women and children.

Despite these impossible circumstances, this Field of Hope helps the women find dignity, purpose, economic independence and some power to rebuild their lives.

"We women have something precious that everybody seems to be after," says Masika. "Here in Congo they go into villages and loot. And after looting, they never leave without raping. That's why I say we've become weapons of war in Congo."