The Democratic Republic of Congo in the heart of Africa has been at war, officially and unofficially, for the past 10 years. Since 1998, 5.4 million people have died from war-related violence, hunger and disease.
The horrific crimes of random violence and terrorism against civilians, including the gang rape of women and children, have been going on for years, but have escalated since rebel forces renewed their attacks in August of last year.
The region that is affected the most is North Kivu, in the east of DRC, just across the border from Rwanda, where Congolese Tutsi rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda is leading the offensive. Close to one million people have been forced to leave their homes and the death toll continues to rise.
Since 2003, HPIC has been working with HEAL Africa, a general hospital in Goma, North Kivu. HEAL Africa specializes in orthopedics, trauma such as bullet wounds and the repair of fistula caused by rape.
In the midst of the present crisis, HEAL Africa is busier than ever. Dr. Jo Lusi, Director and chief surgeon at HEAL Africa, is the only orthopedic and trauma surgeon in eastern DRC. Lyn Lusi, hospital administrator, says “Once again, we’re in the middle of fighting. Many of the victims are brought to HEAL Africa.”
Thanks to generous donations from Canadian healthcare companies, HPIC is able to provide the surgical supplies and equipment necessary for life-saving operations. Medical supplies also aid in rehabilitation and the restoration of health and self-respect to people who have been victims of violence.
Dr. Lusi notes the impact of the medical aid from HPIC. “We have been surviving thanks to you,” he says. “There is no way we could dream of having these high quality supplies. Nobody in our country could pay for them but you give them free of charge. Thank you for giving us this dignity.”