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UPDATE from Eve at City of Joy: “I Saw Love Today”


V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler is currently in Bukavu, DRC for the graduation of City of Joy's second class of women which will take place on August 24. Here's an update from Eve on the ground:

Greetings from Bukavu. Outside there is the sound of cicadas and low conversation and dogs howling in the distance. I have just taken a bath and washed off layers of dust as it is dry season here which means when we drove back this afternoon we were using windshield wipers and headlights(during the day) to try to find our way through a reddish dust storm. Dust everywhere, in the fish on the side of the road, in the flour, in the ragged shoes, in the mouths of children.

I am going to try and describe to you what happened today at City of Joy, what I witnessed and experienced. I am not sure I have the language to describe it as what is happening there feels so utterly new andparadigm shifting. I fear familiar words could reduce it or minimalize or sentimentalize it. Perhaps it is best to share the shards of language breaking in me.

I know the opposite of Trauma is Love.
The only way to heal trauma is through love.
I saw this in the faces of 90 girls
Girls of all sizes and colors and shapes
Girls who were raped before they had their period
Girls who were pregnant at 12
Girls raped who gave birth to triplets from rape
And after they were dead
Girl who was raped at ten and then sent away into the forest
Exiled by her parents to join with a band of other children wanderers
For years living off roots and berries
Only to come upon her parents later exiled too
Now in the woods
Came upon them as soldiers came upon them too
And demanded her father rape her and when he didn't
They killed him and then raped and killed her mother
And raped her too.
She was mad, crazy when she arrived at City of Joy
She was out of her mind
Now she has been stabilized
Now she knows there are others
And she wasn't wrong
And she has value
And can write her name
Now she is someone
And she is someone who will help
The others
No longer afraid

I saw love today
In action
In hips, legs, bums moving
In joy, in gratitude, in grace
In the healing of wounds and memories
I saw love in the way the City Of Joy staff
Danced, held, fed, praised, taught and pushed
the ones that still needed encouragement
in the mad frenetic tumultuous screams
That came as they opened their gifts of material
For panges, in the bellow of singing
That exploded over the dusty day
In the roses, in the bunnies who had given
Birth to bunnies and the goats and sheep
Who were about to give birth in new built
Pens next to the compost next to a well being
Dug which had just found water.

I saw love in how we all just stood suspended
Watching a mama bunny breast feed 5 little
Ones with eyes still glued shut.
How much love there was for those bunnies.

I saw love in the quiet patient computer teacher, Prince
In the hands of Tatiana who was teaching
styles and versions of wildly colored hand crafted bags
I saw love in Mama Christine who was followed
The entire day by 2 little girls who
she had dressed and perfumed and loved
back to life for weeks
In the way she knew every single survivors story
And how they started and where they were
And her firmness was a protection
Her style and beauty a destination
And her professionalism the hope of a future
Not torn by chaos and corruption and colonialism
I saw love in the way the whole city loved her
In the way friendship builds things and makes things
And continues on even as the scary ass soldiers prowl the streets
With their mad hungry eyes and terrifying machine guns
Even as the water runs out and the electricity dies and the roads
Turn to dust and the security warnings periodically flash through
The blackberry
I saw love. It's not what we thought.
We don't even know
It's the synergy Jane was talking about
Jane who was once Jeanne
Who was raped til her insides fell out
Jane who is Jesus rising
Is Joan of Arc and Che
The synergy she said,
"There are women here from all over Congo.
They are tired of the rapes and they are strong now.
They are angry and the time will come. That moment
And you will know then, Mama Ev what you and Mama
Christine and all the others have done. You will know then."