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City of Joy Celebrates First Graduating Class on January 28 in Bukavu, DRC

01/26/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:

Susan Celia Swan/ V-Day
+1 917-865-6603, susan@vday.org
Jen Hirsch/ Group SJR
+1 646-495-9723, vday@groupsjr.com
Christine Schuler Deschryver/V-Day Congo
+ 243998610946, christine@vday.org

CITY OF JOY, A REVOLUTIONARY CENTER FOR WOMEN SURVIVORS OF GENDER VIOLENCE, CELEBRATES FIRST GRADUATING CLASS ON JANUARY 28 IN BUKAVU, DRC

Bukavu, DRC - (January 27, 2012) - Tomorrow, Saturday, January 28, V-Day and the Fondation Panzi (DRC), will celebrate the first gradating class of City of Joy in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). City of Joy, a revolutionary community for women survivors of gender violence, opened its doors to the pilot class of 42 women this summer.

This first class has taken part in a diverse and impactful six-month curriculum that includes: group psychotherapy; self-defense; English; literacy; communications; civic and political education including civil rights; comprehensive sexuality education; massage; physical education, and horticulture. The program was designed by local staff to address the unique emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of Congolese women survivors of gender violence, and to provide them with the tools necessary to return to and thrive in their communities upon graduation.

"Having been with us for over six months, a marked change in the women is already evident," said V-Day Congo Director & Director of City of Joy, Christine Schuler Deschryver. "Upon their arrival the faces of these women showed signs of despair, discouragement, and loneliness. Over time they have, little by little, been helped to use their past difficulties as a source of empowerment. Through the training and programming at City of Joy, these women have moved from pain to power and will return to their homes ready to help revolutionize their communities."

The City of Joy is part of a worldwide campaign that was initiated in 2007 to raise awareness about the level of gender violence in the DRC and advocate for change throughout the Congo. Conceived and developed by the women on the ground in partnership with V-Day and the Panzi Fondation (DRC), the construction of the City of Joy began in September 2009 and opened its doors in June 2011. The second City of Joy class of 90 women is scheduled to begin the program on February 14, 2012.

About the City of Joy
City of Joy is the next chapter in V-Day's ongoing campaign, STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE: Power to the Women and Girls of the DRC. The worldwide campaign was initiated in 2007 to raise worldwide awareness about the level of gender violence in the DRC and advocate for change throughout the Congo. Conceived and developed by the women on the ground in partnership with V-Day and the Panzi Fondation (DRC), the construction of the City of Joy started in September 2009 and opened its doors in June 2011. V-Day has generated significant funding from private foundations and individual donors as well as its vast global network of activists.

About V-Day
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2011, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $85 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Over 300 million people have seen a V-Day benefit event in their community. V-Day has received numerous acknowledgements including Worth Magazine's 100 Best Charities (2001), Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities (2006), one of the Top-Rated organizations on Great Nonprofits (2010). www.vday.org

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