Great Lakes Restoration - "Building The Peace"
October 24, 2008
Archbishop FranÃ§ois-Xavier Maroy Rusengo was born in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on September 1, 1959. He was ordained as a priest on August 19, 1984 in Bukavu. On November 22, 2004 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bukavu and Titular Bishop of Thucca in Mauretania by Pope John Paul II. Subsequently, on April 26, 2006 he was appointed Archbishop of Bukavu.
Archbishop Maroy came to the United States in October, 2008, on a mission to raise awareness concerning the plight of the Great Lakes region and especially the eastern provinces of the DRC. He was sponsored on his trip by Great Lakes Restoration – “Building the Peace”. His message is one of warning as to the imminent danger of a renewed outbreak of open warfare; to inform as to the health needs of the people of the region to combat the problems resulting from previous and current conflict, especially as to HIV/AIDS and the victims of rape which has been and remains a weapon of war in the area; and, to request support for education and training so the people of the region can rebuild their lives and countries, but in a manner consistent with their customs and cultures. He brings a current Congolese perspective and the moral voice of one who has lived through and personally experienced the violence and destruction visited on the area in recent years.
By way of introduction to the situation in the Great Lakes region, the genocide in Rwanda coupled with the collapse of the Mobutu regime in the DRC has spawned over a decade of warfare throughout the Great Lakes region resulting in millions of deaths in the deadliest conflict since World War II. occurring in a poverty stricken area of the developing world, these wars increased the impact of diseases endemic in the region, such as malaria, as well as the health problems associated with malnutrition and poor sanitation. Further, nowhere is the HIV/AIDS pandemic more widespread than in the Great Lakes region. The physical destruction in terms of health care facilities and infrastructure, which were at best barely adequate prior to wars, has also been devastating, especially in relation to the ever increasing numbers of victims of war and disease.
In addition, these wars have seen the use of rape as a “weapon of war” in the region. Rape is still all too common with many of the victims subjected not only to forcible sexual intercourse, but also to an array of torture and mutilation over extended periods of time. Gender and age offer no protection. Although the vast majority of rape victims are female, men are slowly beginning to come forward with their stories of surviving rape and documented cases of rape have ranged in age from as young as three and to as old as eighty. If the victim survived the trauma of assault, his/her trauma is further increased by the risk of infection, disease and social isolation. For women, a pregnancy from rape can result in giving birth to a child that is considered “cursed” by the family and community and she is often forced by societal norms to abandon the child.
In the context of the health care needs of the region, the consequences of over a decade of war are a healthcare system which is struggling with deficits in facilities, personnel, equipment, supplies and medication and therefore most often unable to cope with the health care needs of the region, and especially to address the physical and psychological trauma of victims of sexual violence and their families. The three areas of most immediate concern are the education of health care professionals at all levels; the need for essential facilities; and the need to provide essential services in the local community setting.
profit The Archbishop proposes that the best vehicle to address these needs is through the non company – Great Lakes Restoration which is affiliated with the Catholic University of Bukavu (UCB) School of Medicineand with the Provincial Hospital of General Reference (PHGR) which is also located in Bukavu. There is a pressing need for basic level public health professionals; those who constitute the basic interface between the population and the health care system at the community level, especially in rural areas. The Archbishop believes that a program to train such professionals and combining elements of basic nursing; emergency care; pre-natal and maternity care; teaching as to sanitation and preventative measures (for example, in relation to HIV/AIDS); to provide monitoring for administration of ongoing anti-retroviral medications and outpatient treatment of post-operative patients; and, psychological counseling (especially in the case of the victims of sexual violence), is achievable. Such a program will require a multi-disciplinary approach, but such a program will be able to begin to provide the most necessary personnel to provide basic services in a relatively short period of time.
As to the issue of facilities, the rehabilitation of PHGR will allow the implementation of a telemedicine program in cooperation with the Center for Clinical Global Health Education (CCGHE). This will partially alleviate the problems associated with insufficient numbers of doctors, especially surgeons, and nurses by allowing the expertise of the faculty at Johns Hopkins to be brought to the eastern DRC through CCGHE. As part of the rehabilitation effort a central clinical facility for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS should be included.
Finally, it is important that these efforts be brought to the village level. The poverty of the populace and the absence any meaningful transportation system means that in the vast majority of cases there is no ability for the populace to seek out health care and treatment when it is desperately needed, much less preventative instruction, pre-emergent or outpatient care. In other words, small local facilities staffed with resident health care workers as described above and supported by GLR, UCB and PHGR are a requirement to the recovery of the health care system in the area.
An opportunity for collaboration with UCB and PRGR and other Congolese organizations exists through the Great Lakes Restoration (GLR). In its quest to build peace through advocacy and support of sustainable development throughout the Great Lakes region, the initial focus of GLR is on eastern DRC in partnership with UCB as the hub of its activities in the eastern provinces of DRC and ultimately in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.
Donations to Great Lakes Restoration – “Building The Peace” will help accomplish these goals.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Bukavu, South Kivu, DRC
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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
their passion to assist the needy in Eastern Africa
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
immediately start "Building The Peace" in the Eastern portion of the DRC (Congo)
Ways to make it better...
Additional funding was available to help these ravaged people
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Spreading the word about the atrocities in a forgotten corner of the world.
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Please help this extremely worthy cause.
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Great Lakes Restoration
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Board Member & Coordinate Archbishop Maroy's visit to the US.