By Amy Ernst, Contributing Writer and Photographer/Congo
I arrived in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo in April, 2010 from Chicago. I was introduced to Maman Marie Nzoli through a local Catholic priest who knew of my desire to help survivors of sexual violence. I work alongside COPERMA, the NGO that Maman founded in 1983, raising funds, doing identification of new survivors of rape, and helping arrange medical and psychosocial support for all victims of the war.
“I want so badly for the violence against women to stop.” Maman Marie
The work I do is miniscule compared to that of Maman Marie and the loyal COPERMA team. She has established 12 centers that have assisted thousands of men, women, and children over the years around Butembo.
Even though they often aren’t paid, Maman Marie and her team work tirelessly, never turning down anyone with need nor hesitating to go into a dangerous situation. They’ve subsisted mostly on selling potatoes cultivated by beneficiaries of COPERMA.
She’s an unsung hero and an endless inspiration to me. Here is what she told me recently in her small concrete office in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo… [Read more…]