The Restore the Villages Project will take a multi-faceted approach to diminishing the negative consequences of mass rape in the Eastern Congo. We will focus our efforts on Fizi and Mwenga, both underserved territory.
Restore the Villages will provide a unique and novel approach to post-rape healing in villages affected by mass rape through facilitating five forms of intervention: medical, therapeutic, economic, judicial, and spiritual.
Restore the Villages will act as an umbrella organization to provide financial assistance and support to several partner organizations in executing the interventions.
The Restore the Villages Project intends to fill a gap within the existing NGO population in Eastern Congo by providing a broad spectrum of services aimed at diminishing the negative consequences of mass rape in the Eastern Congo, focusing on two underserved territories, Fizi and Mwenga. While there are many individual organizations concentrating on one specific area of post-rape healing, Restore the Villages will take a broad spectrum approach, and will provide five forms of interventions within villages affected by mass rape: medical, therapeutic, economic, judicial, and spiritual.
By approaching the problem from five angles, Restore the Villages believes that we can dampen the negative effects of mass rape on affected villages. The goal of the work of Restore the Villages is to encourage villages to remain intact following an attack, and to change perceptions of the way rape is viewed so that the women are not expelled from the village, made to divorce their husbands or not have any prospects of marriage.
The first priority of Restore the Villages is to organize and fund interventions by our partner organizations across the five areas of intervention, and to establish standard operating procedures to enable interventions to take place immediately after a rape attack occurs. Thereafter, Restore the Villages intends to work on providing rapid response to rape attacks, and to monitor the effects of the five forms of intervention.
We predict that by providing this holistic approach to post-rape healing we can encourage the continued integration of victims of rape within the community of the village. This will ensure that women can remain in their homes and continue to farm their land or otherwise contribute to the village economy and social life.
Dr. Richard H. Steinberg
405 Hilgard Avenue
Restore the Villages: A Project to Remediate Gender Violence in Eastern Congo
Rapid medical assistance is vital in villages that have suffered mass rape, in particular so that victims can be given antiretroviral drugs or other medicine to diminish the probability of contracting HIV or to treat other sexually transmitted diseases. Restore the Villages will help finance and work with an existing mobile medical team provider in South Kivu to initiate a swift medical intervention program, ideally within 72 hours of the rape occurring.
It is hoped that by changing the traditional perception or interpretation of “rape” the negative consequence of mass rape could be substantially diminished. In particular, if divorce were no longer a normal reaction to rape, then the first link in the causal chain of negative village effects could be broken, eliminating or dampening consequences further down the chain. Restore the Villages hopes to work with Center Olame, a group associated with the Catholic Archdiocese of South Kivu. The intention is to embed a psychologist and two social workers in a village that has suffered mass rape; that group will work with the victims, their extended families, and others in the village to try to keep victims integrated and avoid their expulsion.
Microcredit will be provided to victims of rape so that they can rent land, herd livestock, or engage in other productive activity in the village, thereby keeping them integrated in the economic life of the village, which otherwise often separates itself from the victims. In order to facilitate this economic intervention, Restore the Villages will administer a small, pilot microcredit organization in a few villages that have suffered mass rape. The microcredit will be provided to a collective of women that includes identified victims and some non-victims.
Judicial intervention is aimed at deterring rape and changing perceptions about who is responsible. It is hoped that intervening through legal processes will lessen the adverse psychological, social, economic and political consequences of mass rape by providing villagers with a sense that justice has been done, and helping to develop an understanding that the perpetrator (not the victim) is to be blamed for the transgression. This program of intervention is being carried out by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, which operates a mobile court system that tries captured combatants accused of mass rape. Restore the Villages is able to offer modest financial support for those activities and will help assess their effects on village life and perceptions.
An overwhelming proportion of villagers in most villages in Eastern Congo are religious and religious ritual plays an important part in villagers’ lives. This method of intervention will involve senior representatives of the major religious groups in South Kivu—Protestant, Catholic and Muslim—preaching ideas of compassion and opposition to divorce through a set of religious activities and rituals.
A Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project
The Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project was established in 2009 by a generous gift from Sanela Diana Jenkins, who works on an on-going basis with UCLA faculty and students to advance the cause of human rights and international justice around the world.
Sanela Diana Jenkins has turned a life of hardship into triumph, as she has developed into a successful business woman, a devoted mother, and a philanthropist.
As a native of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Jenkins lived her childhood and teenage years in the midst of genocide. She lived in the country long enough to graduate from Sarajevo University with a degree in economics. Shortly thereafter, Jenkins was forced to flee her homeland during the war in Bosnia, which was responsible for the death of her brother Irnis. Compelled to leave her parents behind, Jenkins found herself as a refugee in London, where she was eventually granted asylum.
Jenkins has dedicated a large part of her attention back to her native land by establishing The Sanela Diana Jenkins Foundation for Bosnia in Memory of Irnis Ćatić. The Foundation, which is closely associated with the funding of the medical school at the University of Sarajevo, aims to provide financial support toward establishing Bosnian schools and orphanages. Additionally, it is instrumental in building homes for the country’s poor, supplying emergency aid & relief, and cleaning the country’s lakes and polluted areas. The Foundation is the largest privately funded Bosnian organization of its kind. In 2008, Jenkins won the Mostar Peace Connection Prize for her humanitarian work.
For more information, please visit the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project Web page.