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Eve's Update From City of Joy: "The women will rise."

V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler was in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for three weeks in August. Here she shares with an update on City of Joy and the new V-World Farm, and brings to you the voices of some of the incredible women who are RISING and turning their pain to power.

The red dust swallows everything, coats the roofs and goats and faces of dazed children who lean out on Essence Road. The dust which begs for water where there is no water, for shelter where there are no windows or doors. The dust that is spread in wild disregard as fancy UN jeeps overtake broken cars leaving bent women balancing backbreaking sacks choking in their wake. The dust that erases and the dust that turns Bukavu into some post-apocalyptic dream that only rain or peace or care will wake. Mama C says she prefers the mud. Mud she says is fresh, alive, wet and everything is green then.

I arrive at City of Joy and the children greet me outside the gates. They are decked in pink crown hats made of cardboard and staples. They are wearing matching blue and pink pagnes with swirly designs and they are jumping and hugging and spinning. The carnival begins, this medicinal festival of healing and care that is the City of Joy. This place where trauma is so thick and widespread it is a kind of contagion.

This place where love is so available and electric, it is an ample cure. Here our rising girls, 89 of them dance and sing, their faces marked with scars and sorrow and anger and joy and newly donated makeup. 89 girls from all over the Congo chosen because of their past and pain, chosen for their hunger for a future, not just for themselves, but the others. City of Joy, where despite the dry season the pink roses are 5 feet tall and the bougainvillea is now thick over the archways. City of Joy where bunnies can’t stop making bunnies and cats have moved in to keep out the mice, where the storage room is full of sneakers and medicine and crayons and flashlights and towels. City of Joy, where 89 girls arrive some explosive, some mute, some unable to lift their heads, some ready to die. And in just 3 months, they dance with a thunderous joy, defying everything that has been done to them and everything they have been made to believe they are. City of Joy, where our Cherie Mamas (social workers) know every name, every story, every illness and every dream.

Where Mama Bachu builds their political vision and knowledge of their rights and resistance and our new nurse, Marcelline, rocks some to sleep. City of Joy, where Prince teaches them how to how to find the world on the internet and Dr. Mukwege teaches them to find their their vaginas and love them and demand respect. City of Joy, where in any given day one woman finally tells her story and is freed and another decides she is beautiful. City of Joy, where Mama C builds her professional brigade, day by day, lesson by lesson. Where she is loved and respected because she has allowed and invited and insisted that everyone rise to their best and now they are respected everywhere. Every single child of every person who works at the City of Joy succeeded in school this year. Each day there is transformation and each day the trauma releases and rises like smoke through a chimney of hearts.

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