Bibiche and I met about a year ago, during the “Women Arise from Stigma” workshop at the United Methodist Episcopal offices in Kindu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was one of three women who shared their story about being sexually assaulted and then rejected by her family.
She was raped at 14 years of age when she left home to get food for the family. Four men abducted her and took her to the forest where they raped her until they heard others coming near. Left alone, she collected herself, walked to a nearby church and collapsed in the sanctuary.
A woman at the church came and looked at her wounds, bandaged them and cared for her three days before accompanying her to Bibiche’s home. Sharing the story with her family, their response still echoes: “The war is over! This cannot be true. You must leave!”
Bibiche went to a grandmother’s home and was out of school – becoming behind in her studies – but it was the French language that separated her from others, as it is a sign of education within the country.
At the workshop, she shared her story among women in the community who knew her – yet did not know her full story. Her bold faith in telling others what happened released her from inner bondage to move forward with healing. Mama Tunda – the matriarch of the community – cried – saying that she had never known what happened. She prayed for her in front of all the women.
A slight mention of the attack today still brings a flood of tears, yet she is quick to respond, even with laughter and hope for the future.
She still yearns to reunite with her mother, and is hopeful that local clergy can help build a bridge. While her brothers’ and sisters’ education is supported by the family, Bibiche is on her own. She now has finished high school and speaks French very well.
Bibiche has big dreams! She wants to become a medical doctor and is beginnning with nursing school. Due to a kind-hearted donor, she will be starting in October 2018.
Her hope is alive and is being stoked by the Mama Lynn Center who cares for survivors of sexual violence. Listen to the accounts of survivors. Don’t be quick to dismiss. The discomfort you may feel for a short time may help women arise and one day overcome a culture of rape which exists throughout the world.
Special thanks to the Tennessee, Memphis, California-Pacific and East Congo United Methodist Church, United Methodist Women, WiseHeart Foundation, Chocolate Moose Media and the many individual donors who made “Congo Women Arise/Women Arise” possible.
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Very special thanks to the Tennessee Area of the United Methodist Church(COSROW), United Methodist Women, WiseHeart Foundation, Chocolate Moose Media, and all of the individual donors who made this journey possible.