Monday, April 7, 2008

Dr. Florimond Kabanda

Dr. Florimond Kabanda and Honorable David Mubalama, Senator of South Kivu.

Dr. Florimond Kabanda is a man of two worlds. Born and raised here in Bukavu, he was relocated to the USA in mid-1990’s when his life was threatened for being a human rights activist. Why they chose to send a Congolese family to Grand Rapids, MI, I can only imagine, but he has thrived there since with his wife and six children. Since coming to the US, Dr. Florimond has earned Masters and Doctorate degrees in Psychology.

Smart, charismatic, and a man of deep faith, Dr. Florimond is connected with World Mission in the US and is the President of Congolese International Ministry (CIM), an NGO here in Bukavu.

His sister Bella lives in Bukavu and is National Coordinator of CIM, as well as the accountant for Poll Clinique in Nyangezi. She works in the office with Karen, Dr. Florimond's secretary and receptionist. Both women are studying English and will be fluent soon. (As an aside, Bella has an MBA and is currently working toward another Master's degree in Public Relations. Very smart and lots of fun, she is married to an attorney who litigates for women's rights and who happily paid her bride price of five cows. They have two young children.)

Dr. Florimond, Bella, and Karen out for lunch. We ate inside the palapa.

Dr. Florimond knows everyone in Bukavu. He carries 2 cell phones that ring constantly and is always on the move. Earlier this week, he opened psychotherapy offices in Bukavu where he will treat women victims of sexual violence. He also plans to use the office to train local caregivers and NGOs how to treat people traumatized by war as there is no organized training program in Bukavu at this time.

Dr. Florimond standing in front of Poll Clinique, the health center in Nyangezi.

Dr. Florimond is in Congo for two months to oversee the expansion of his health center in Nyangezi, which was completed in October 2007. Nyangezi is a small country town 30 kilometers (1 ½ hour drive) from Bukavu. Upon completion in July, the hospital will have over 200 beds suitable for healing women victims of gender-based violence. There are already 3 doctors and 5 nurses on staff who meet the medical needs of the local population, many of whom walk 30 kilometers to Nyangezi for health care. In July a team of 12 medical doctors is coming from Grand Rapids, MI to help further train the doctors and provide volunteer medical care.

(l. to r., Dr. Florimond, Amina Gisele, Flory Zozo, and Honorable David Mubalama)

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