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International Women's Day

The following is an excerpt from the HEAL Africa March newsletter. CFHI has partnered with HEAL Africa in Goma for the past six years sending a total of four containers full of life-saving Canadian medical equipment to assist in the clinic's vital mission. This year, we hope to send yet another container.

Every year in Goma, DR Congo on March 8 there is a line several miles long of people marching through the city streets. The march lasts all day, blocks the two main roads in town, and ends at the stadium where thousands of people gather for a rally. Women and men march with their churches, organizations, or families, to call for women's rights and to demand justice. Each group wears a specific fabric in honour of women's day and the line is a seemingly never-ending sea of brilliant colors.

The UN Secretary General on his visit to Goma last week said, "War in Congo has created a culture of impunity. The government of DRC and the community
must work together to stop this. We must invest in community-based work. I'd like to see institutions such as HEAL Africa established all across DRC."

Not only does HEAL Africa medically treat women who have fistula, but the HEAL staff also provide conditions for social and spiritual healing. Counseling and vocational training are available for hospital patients and most importantly, HEAL Africa engages the community as the entire population is affected by violence against women and lack of women's health care.

By training rural health care professionals and traditional birth attendants, HEAL Africa has produced a sustainable, long-term impact on health care. The majority of fistula cases are obstetric, meaning labour-induced, and by improving rural maternal care HEAL Africa prevents potential cases of fistula and saves women from years of unnecessary stigmatization and suffering.

HEAL Africa's gender and justice program is establishing local mediation clinics
 throughout rural areas so that communities can quickly take judicial action against perpetrators of violence. In these same communities, HEAL Africa partners with churches and local leaders to examine gender relations and how religious and state institutions can work for the gender equality.

As in all HEAL Africa programs, the only solution is community-based. Change cannot come from the outside. It must come from within communities themselves.

If you would like to partner with IMED in the shipping costs for these critical projects, please give us a call at 1.800. 667.0605 or visit www.cfhi.ca/imed.

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Food for the Hungry: International Women's Day
International Women's Day
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