Alphonsine grew up in the height of the ongoing violence that plagued eastern DRC & Rwanda since the 1990’s. In the middle of the night, an armed militia raided her village, killed her parents, and kidnapped her. She was taken to an isolated forest with the other stolen girls from her village and raped repeatedly.
Alphonsine was kept captive for months amidst the ongoing conflict, and soon realized she was pregnant. She received no prenatal care, and was stabbed repeatedly while in active labor and hoping to find her way to a hospital. Due to her injuries and a lack of medical attention, the baby did not survive, and Alphonise’s wounds became infected. She now suffered from an obstetric fistula* in addition to her stab wounds.
One week after her delivery, her captors finally realized the extent of her injuries and brought her to a rural health center. It was there that doctors made the decision to contact Dr. Mukwege who personally arranged for her transfer to Panzi Hospital.
Alphonsine was brought immediately to the operating room upon arrival, where Dr. Mukwege and his staff worked fervently to repair her fistula and wounds. She was then brought to the “Hope Room”— the ward where survivors are brought to recover and continue on their healing journey. Due to the extent of her injuries, Alphonsine had to endure over fourteen surgeries, and became very close to Dr. Mukwege as he consulted on her case.
Overtime, Alphonsine began to regain her physical strength, and Dr. Mukwege asked her how he could further support her on her path to recovery. Yearning to rebuild her life, Alphonsine decided she wanted to go to school with several other survivors with the goal of someday becoming a nurse at Panzi.
“I wanted to study so that I could help
other Congolese women facing
the same problems as me, and give them
the same grace that I received.”
In 2020, Alphonsine’s dream became a reality, and she graduated with her degree in nursing sciences. Today, she proudly works in the same ward where she was once a patient, providing compassionate care to her sister-survivors.
“When I care for a person, I feel like they love me,” Alphonsine says “They talk to me, and that makes me forget everything that happened to me. I don’t feel traumatized in my mind anymore.”
*An obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by obstructed labour. It often results in the death of the baby and incontinence for the mother.
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