Congolese activist Christine Schuler Deschryver, co-founder of a shelter called City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, shared her experience on Nov. 6 at the 4th World Conference of Womens Shelter's. She stressed that the community is a place that transforms pain into powerful motivation.
Deschryver explained that City of Joy has its own culture — one that is grounded in love, respect for one another, and the unique experiences each woman brings to the table. The philosophy at City of Joy is to put the beneficiaries at the center of all the services provided, she said.
Together, survivors, shelter managers, and social workers work in unison to create an environment where victims have their dignity restored on the path to their true selves. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been named the rape capital of the world, and yet people like Deschryver have not lost hope in it, creating instead a transformational leadership community of women who have survived violence.
Prior to her work in the Congo, the activist has worked as a teacher and an administrator for CARE in Canada and the German Technical Cooperation for 13 years, gaining valuable experience and connections that were applied towards establishing City of Joy and coordinating campaign activities on the local, provincial, and national level.
Under her leadership, City of Joy has seen 1,204 survivors graduate from its program and the community of women does not plan to stop there. As an avid advocate for Congolese women's rights, Deschryver also works closely with Eve Ensler, founder of the V-Day anti-violence movement, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Denise Mukwege to bring solutions to challenges faced by Congolese women.