A Transformation Engine, A Healing Oasis & A Place of Joy: the 25th City of Joy Class Graduates - V-Day
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A Transformation Engine, A Healing Oasis & A Place of Joy: the 25th City of Joy Class Graduates

A Transformation Engine, A Healing Oasis & A Place of Joy: the 25th City of Joy Class Graduates

Photo: Patrick Lwaboshi

On 28 June, the 25th class graduated from the City of Joy, a formidable accomplishment amidst increasing conflict in the Eastern Congo. 89 women have turned their pain to power, becoming young leaders who are environmentalists, journalists and storytellers, public speakers, peace activists, and advocates for freedom and gender equality among so many emerging talents.

Photos: Carlos Schuler

Following is an excerpt from the report by co-founder and director of City of Joy and V-Day Congo, Christine Schuler Deschryver:

June 28 marked the completion of training in women’s leadership and emotional healing for 89 residents of the City of Joy who have been recruited to transform their pain into power. Since January, this 25th graduating class has been on a journey to celebrate the victory over the trauma they have suffered as a result of the destruction of their lives and the sabotage of their dignity as women. These women had the time to accept themselves, to fight and to rebuild their lives. They have been able to tell the story of all the steps they have taken, so as to turn the dark, shady page of their existence and begin to write a new one.

The psychotherapy sessions they have undergone, the capacity-building training they have received and the knowledge and assets they have developed for their livelihood have enabled them to come to terms with their bodies, accept themselves and aim higher.

“The City of Joy is a transformation engine, a healing oasis and a place of joy and vivacity where all the girls receive consideration, love, encouragement, healing and dressing of their wounds. It’s a place where they’ve had the opportunity to rebuild themselves, to mourn their suffering, to gain momentum and to listen to their bodies. The City of Joy is the place where the seeds of revolution are sown to grow, blossom and reach other women whose lives had become darkened by male hegemony, patriarchy, war, discrimination, plundering of natural resources, dispossession of women and the poor.”

– Spokeswoman for the COJ residents

Photos: Carlos Schuler

The City of Joy has been honored by the bravery, charm and determination of 89 women who have reached the end of their training and emotional healing. The City of Joy triggers new opportunities for success, victory and life change. Congolese women are the gateway to the needed revolution in the Congo.

READ the full report
LEARN more about City of Joy
GIVE Joy, DONATE today
WATCH Christine’s TED Talk and the documentary CITY OF JOY (Netflix)


Roslyn Smith, V-Day’s Beyond Incarceration Project Manager, writes her newest blog, entitled “My reflection on an emotional and meaningful film screening: Beyond Bars.Dispatches from Beyond Incarceration is an ongoing series about her experiences as a formerly incarcerated women, including short and long dispatches on prison reform and prison abolition, the experiences of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, visions of a world without prison, how violence against women leads to women coming to prison and then the violence they experience there, all the while highlighting important data and facts that shed light on incarceration and our commitment to restorative justice models.

“I was honored and excited to be invited to participate in a panel discussion following the New York screening of Chesa Boudin’s powerful documentary film Beyond Bars. This was my first time seeing the movie, and it proved to be an incredibly moving and emotional experience for me. The film chronicles Chesa’s life growing up, visiting his parents in prison – one of whom was my dear friend, mentor, and confidante, Kathy Boudin. Watching the years go by on screen, seeing Chesa make those regular trips to Bedford Hills, hit me viscerally. I was transported back to my own experience of being incarcerated and the time I spent with my daughter and Kathy.”

READ the full blog here.