The Flo Healing and Support Centre in Kirotshe

A lasting legacy of healing and hope, a gift from a very courageous lady.

Kirotshe is a village on the other side of Lake Kivu from Goma, near the northern end of the Lake. Like many of the areas of North Kivu many of the women of Kirotshe have been violently and often repeatedly raped. During a visit to Kirotshe by a Comfort International team, Flo McEwan was deeply moved by the experiences, trauma and poverty of the women. Tragically Flo passed away not long after that visit but such was her heart for the women that she had left a legacy to support an initiative which would help them.

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One of the rape survivors, Furaha Anatolie (name changed to protect identity) has told us her story – ‘we fled to this side from Shanga. For a long time life became very hard here and later I decided the best thing to do was to go back to Shanga to find food. The village was empty. The rebel group called M23 saw me alone. They asked me what I was doing there but I was so afraid that I couldn’t say anything. They forced me into a house and raped me. Afterwards, I arrived at hospital on a hammock and my husband knew easily that I had been raped. We argued and he rejected me. I don’t have any strength to work so I accept any man to pay me for my body. I became pregnant and gave birth to a baby so now it is even harder to work. Before this, I had four children with my husband. Now I also have this one.’   

Not only do women like Anatolie have the tragedy of the rape, they also have rejection from family, debilitating injuries and consequences of poverty through not being strong enough for the hard labour involved in many rural activities. It is for women like Anatolie that a new centre of healing and hope is being built. As well as a place to meet in safety and encourage and support each other, the centre will be a place for the women to develop income generating activities, and especially to create a sewing centre. It is the brainchild of the rape survivors themselves who want to build a hope and a future for themselves by establishing enterprises that they are physically able to do and which provide a context for community through shared working spaces and equipment provision. 

The centre is now under construction and making good progress. Recently one of our partner’s team, Bedadi, visited and sent us back pictures of the progress made.  

“Thanks Flo for everything you have done at Kirotshe. We will remember you forever and keep you in our Heart”- Bedadi Bwagula, Comfort Congo

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