The Panzi Model
Our world-renowned, four-pillar holistic healing model meets the full-spectrum of needs for survivors of sexual violence. Panzi creates a
safe space that supports physical healing, emotional recovery, rebuilds their livelihoods,
and contributes to the long-term, sustainable restoration of their communities.
Many of the women and children who seek care at Panzi Hospital have sustained life-threatening injuries as a result of the rapes they endured. Children as young as six months old have been treated by Dr. Mukwege and his team, as have women who have survived rape by broken bottles, guns, and knives or the burning of their genitals. Many of these survivors have developed severe obstetric fistulas, rendering them incontinent, or are suffering from organ prolapse or other gynecological trauma. In addition to providing surgical services free of charge to these survivors, Dr. Mukwege and his team also ensure that they receive access to post- exposure prophylaxis (PEP kits) to prevent sexually- transmitted diseases (including HIV) and unwanted pregnancies.
From the moment that a survivor enters Panzi Hospital, she is paired with a psychosocial assistant, called a “Maman Cherie,” who personally introduces them to a suite of psychosocial support services to address the trauma she has endured. Many women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, and because rape is heavily stigmatized in Congolese communities they often lack the support of family members or friends. Survivors find comfort and support in one another at “Maison Dorcas,” the after-care facility that they are transferred to following the conclusion of their medical services at Panzi Hospital. There, they receive access to various therapeutic activities, including group talk therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, martial arts therapy, and more.
Survivors are often unable to return to their home villages due to the deep societal stigma that is associated with rape. Maison Dorcas also provides survivors with skills training and economic re-insertion activities that will allow them to make a living after they leave the Panzi compound, or provide for their children who often are shunned as well. This includes: access to women’s village savings and loan groups (mutual solidarity groups) as well as skills training in areas such as business, computer competency, basket-weaving, tailoring, embroidery, leather- making, and more. Maison Dorcas also provides child care services to mothers as they undergo these skills training courses, to ensure that they have the ability to focus fully on their activities while feeling confident that their children are being cared for.
Survivors receive access to legal services and support if they choose to pursue justice against their assailants. Panzi Hospital staff are well-trained in the collection of forensic evidence and follow strict international protocols regarding collecting verbal testimonies in a way that will not re-traumatize the victim. If a survivor decides to pursue legal action, they receive access to Congolese lawyers who will guide them through the process and advocate on their behalf.