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FROM CONGO: We Want Our Hero Back, NOW!

Dr. Mukwege and our beloved Jade at Nobel Women's Initiative in NYC

The October 25th assassination attempt on Dr. Denis Mukwege, renowned surgeon and founder of Panzi hospital – the hero and uncompromising voice for the women of Congo – is the culmination of all the violence against its women.

Dr. Mukwege is the champion of the women of East Congo. He has healed over 30,000 of us who were brutalized in unconscionable ways by monsters wearing military uniforms. He has worked tirelessly to heal our bodies, but also for our rights, our safety, and our dignity. We are so thankful that Dr. Mukwege and his family were unharmed in the attack, and mourn with him for the loss of his long time associate and sentinel, Joseph Bizimana.

Every day in East Congo we have to face new atrocities against our gender. The assassination attempt on Dr. Mukwege highlights the fact that there is no bottom to how low they will go. According to a UN statement, "an average 10 to 12 women arrive at Panzi hospital daily for treatment, many of whom require major surgery.” And these beasts don’t want us to be healed. They don’t want us to recover. They brutalize us after raping us so that we can’t bear children again. But so many of the 30,000 women Dr. Mukwege has healed do go on to bear children. And when they do, and a son is born, many name their sons “Mukwege.” Many, I tell you. One day there will be many Mukweges in Congo.

To the assassins, having Dr. Mukwege leave Congo is almost as good as having him dead, because with Dr. Mukwege gone, so also is our symbol of hope. No one else hears our cries. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can give the order in minutes to protect Dr. Mukwege, so why can’t the order be given to end the violence against women in Congo? We have been waiting 16 years for someone to give that order. Our champion is evacuated to safety, and we thank you, but do you have another who will so selflessly take up his mantle?

I read the speech online that Dr. Mukwege gave at the United Nations, exactly one month ago to the day of this attempt on his life (Coincidence?). He captured all of our thoughts, our hearts, and our dreams for the women in Congo. He said: “This has been going on for 16 years! 16 years of errancy; 16 years of torture; 16 years of mutilation; 16 years of the destruction of women, the only vital Congolese resources; 16 years of destruction of an entire society.”

Dr. Mukwege never speaks of himself; he speaks only about the subjugated women of Congo, as both Congo's hope, and Congo's future. Dr. Mukwege fights for us with all his heart and his energy. He fights for us in the operating room, and he fights for us at the United Nations in New York City. There is no one to replace him. That's why they tried to kill him.

Dr. Mukwege is not only medicine for our bodies, but medicine for our hearts. His belief in us has caused us to believe in ourselves. And now we will find strength we have never found before. We shall not give up. We Demand A Peaceful Congo where our dearest brother and his family can come home. We cannot imagine going on without him. He is our angel. He is our confidence that one day, we as Congo's daughters, sisters and mothers, will be able to live in the dignity of such a noble heritage.

Dr. Mukwege’s closing words at the United Nations last month will continue to speak until it is fulfilled. He said: “I have the honour to say that the courage of women victims of sexual violence in the Eastern Congo will in the end overcome this evil.”

And to that we say, Amen, Dr. Mukwege. Together, we will overcome this evil!

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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mrbeckbeck's picture


Such a powerfully written call to action Neema, thank you. Yes, we stand together to call for a peaceful Congo where the dignity and respect that women deserve are at the center. We will overcome this evil, you are right.

Thinking of you, every day sister.

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Volunteer

Neema's picture


Thank you Scott. How incredible to have such a wonderfully supportive brother be the first one to comment on this letter. Not only are you the first one, but you are number 1. In solidarity,


Osai's picture

A True Hero

Dear Neema,

Dr. Mkwege is indeed a true hero and defender of women's human rights. We stand with you in solidarity against the brutal and shameful attack on him. We pray for his quick and safe recovery.

Best regards,

Twitter: @livingtruely

annette419's picture

Powerful Indeed!

Neema My Sister, your writing is powerful & persuasive. I will spread the word as best I can. I am certain that Dr. Mkwege has treated my AMCAV sisters. I wish him a good recovery. And I echo your call for dignity & respect in a peaceful Congo. It has been far too long without it!
In sisterhood,

sarahrubin's picture


Dear Neema,

Thank you for your powerful letter and sharing this moving story of a great leader who speaks for women in the Congo.
I hope Dr. Mkwege regains his strength quickly and continues to advocate to end this violence and represent the promise of safety for all women in the Congo. I also hope that he and your letter to the World Pulse community inspires more leaders to emerge to support the creation of resources that protect and heal women in the Congo until this horrific violence truly ends.

Warm regards,

lydiagcallano's picture


I am glad to know that there is a MAN who is serving and fighting for the rights of WOMEN in Congo. I praise God for creating Dr, Mkwege, a man brave enough to counter the oppression and brutality in your country. I believe that his life was spared from the attempted assassination because he could do much more for your country. He could move mountains even if he is in asylum.

Meanwhile, develop another Mkwwege amongst you. Believe that as long as there is life, there is hope. Claim in God's name that one day peace and development would start in Congo.


Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

camarnet's picture

Moving story

Thank you for sharing this story. I'm so glad that by the end of it, you were ushering in a message of hope. And he's right. Women should be the ones to end this horror. Symbols of hope are great, but the real change lies in each and every woman who has the courage to stand up and tell her story loudly so that everyone may hear.

amirchima's picture

Ripple Effect


Thank you for this post. You really bring to life the hope one man, Dr. Denis Mukwege, has brought to so many. The positive seeds he has planted in your community, in your country, will create a ripple effect to help overcome the nature of the atrocities you speak of.

Your voice in sharing this post is a powerful statement itself and part of the ripple effect movement.

Thinking of you and your community.


Dear Sister Neema~

Your words, soul and cry for PEACE, JUSTICE and LIFE for the women of the DR of CONGO pierces our heart to stand up and follow the lead of Dr. Mukwege. You carry the spirit and vision of Dr. Mukwege, each of us will step up and be committed to help end the violence and give LIFE and PEACE to the women, children of the DRC.

It must be very painful for Dr Mkwege to leave his homeland but it does not end his determination to find ways to help you from afar. It takes much courage for you and the other women to carry on and help one another find ways to battle against the atrocities. Your VOICE is strong and heard by many people around the world.

You are not alone and we will do all we can to ask the UN to call an end to the human rights violations, and provide much needed care.

With love and solidarity for PEACE!


With Gratitude,

Linda M. Ando

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