Vodacom donates US$170 000 to help DRC rape victims
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Mobile operator Vodacom has donated US$170 000 to the Panzi Foundation to build a trauma and transit centre for women victims of rape and sexual violence in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where two decades of armed conflict has killed over six million people and displaced four million.
The Panzi Foundation is the initiative of award-winning and legendary Dr Denis Mukwege, who has helped millions of DRC women and girls recover from the ordeal they suffered for years at the hands of government troops and rebels operating in the restive east.
The foundation built the Panzi Hospital in 1998 in the city of Bukavu in the South Kivu Province, where thousands of women are being treated from the injuries and trauma of being gang-raped and displaced by the armed conflict.
More than 1 000 women were said to have been raped every day during the war by government troops and rebels, according to a study published in 2013 in the American Health Journal.
Speaking this week at the ceremony to hand over the cheque, Vodacom Congo MD Murielle Lorilloux said the gesture was only a fraction of her company’s contribution aimed at helping women survivors rebuild their lives by reintegrating into society through social and economic programmes.
Lorilloux said the mobile operator will add US$132 000 more in the coming days in terms of its Red Alert Campaign launched in June 2013.
“I thank Dr Mukwege for his dedication to help women victims of sexual violence, and I cherish all of us for our efforts and for believing in the potential of this country and its women,” Lorilloux said emotionally.
Dr Mukwege, who has received about 10 awards, was last week rewarded with the Sakharov Award by the European Parliament.