Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mothers at Panzi Hospital

When I reviewed the photographs from my last trip to DRC, I realized I had some wonderful portraits of mothers with their babies at Panzi Hospital. I'd like to share them with you.

Most if not all of these children were born of rape. There are few babies at Panzi Hospital who are not the result of violence. Women who come to Panzi for treatment of obstetric fistulas lose the child over 90% of the time, mainly because they have walked too far and waited too long to get medical treatment.Thus, because these babies are alive, they are most likely the result of rape.

The women do not want a child born of rape. They beg the doctors to abort them, but the doctors say, We are here to save lives, not to take them away.

Often the mother, the newborn, and her other children are sent away by the husband, because she has become the rapist's "wife". Her shame is so great that she dishonors both her husband and the community, so they are cast out.

Yet, I've heard that children to a Congolese mother are as the trunk is to an elephant. People say that a child in Congo is a king or queen in his mother's eyes. So the women are torn between hating how the child was conceived and loving the child because it is hers.

This little guy has AIDS, as do many children at Panzi. The happiest child I have ever seen, he runs through the hospital corridors, bursting with energy, greeting everyone with a huge smile.

Let us cast our lot on the side of Love! Let us all be so happy!

With love and gratitude,

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