Provide revolutionary healing, learning and leadership for women survivors of gender violence in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why we care: In Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most dangerous places to be a women or girl, women experience brutal rape and sexual violence by militias.

How we’re solving this: Providing specialized psychosocial care for survivors, with focus on the connections between women’s sexuality and mental health. 

The City of Joy is a revolutionary community for survivors of gender violence. Developed in conjunction with women on the ground, the City of Joy is a space where survivors of gender violence—who have recovered from their physical injuries—live, learn and heal emotionally from trauma by gaining valuable life skills and receiving specialized psychosocial care and support. V-Day will use funds from this project to hire five psychologists to work with City of Joy residents.

This project will also help V-Day purchase supplies, such as stationary, literacy workbooks, beads, soap-producing items, needles and threads and other materials. In addition, the project will help fund a trip for residents to the V-World farm, where women turn pain to planting. The philosophy of the City of Joy is grounded in a deep respect for the earth and a commitment to teaching techniques that will help women to live sustainable lives. At the City of Joy and the V-World farm, women are learning techniques, such as horticulture, compositing and animal husbandry that will not only enhance their lives, but that of their larger community.

The City of Joy is a more than just a physical space: It is a concept, a decision, a movement of women’s leaders, a wish for a peaceful future in the Congo where women thrive, rather than merely survive. Across the next five years, we will see 1,000 women graduate from the program. We know that from this group incredible leaders are already emerging—women who will not only shape the destiny of Congo’s future, but will play a pivotal role in the global movement to end gender violence.

Photo Credit: Paula Allen for V-Day