I’ve been in Bukavu one week now, driving last Sunday with my friend Gunilla from Kigali through Rwanda to DRC, in time to march in the INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY parade with the Ushindi Center women.
And what a parade it was! Thousands of women waited for hours to march in solidarity down Patrice Lumumba, the main street in Bukavu. The parade was 3-4 times larger than I remember it being 2 years ago.
The women marched, sometimes 3 groups wide, each carrying their own banner and dressed in matching libaya. They came from neighboring towns and villages as well as Bukavu-- Ciriri, Bunyarkiri, Walungu, Mumosho, Nyangezi, Mudusa--some walking several days to participate in the event.
Our Administrator, Hortense Barholere wrote the Ushindi Center banner, which read:
USHINDI CENTER – EMPOWER CONGO WOMEN, USA
Leo ni siku mpya mama, Amka!
Today is a new day Mama, Get Up!
One of my favorite groups was the Conglese women soldiers, who marched and sang with great pride.
This large group marched in front of us and sang for hours during the parade. These are women who were taken as wives by the rebels, sex slaves who were rescued and are now being repatiated by CARITAS.
Alice was ill and sat in a UN vehicle with the Bangladeesh policemen until she felt better.
Overall, the march was a great success. The women's voices sang out to stop violence against women and children and demanded peace in DR Congo.