As a young boy, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege witnessed his father, a Pentecostal pastor, praying for a sick child. It made him want to help people who suffer – not as a pastor, but as a doctor.
Fast forward to 1999, and Denis Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, near the Rwandan border. There, over the last twenty-odd years, he has treated tens of thousands of women with gynaecological trauma, caused by the extreme sexual violence which has become a weapon of war in this volatile part of the world. Rich in coveted mineral resources, the area is the scene of a large-scale conflict involving countless armed rebel groups.
But Dr Mukwege was not just helping women: he was also speaking out against the cruelty of this conflict. This led to several attempts on his life.
In the first of a new series of The Right Thing, Mike Wooldridge talks to Denis Mukwege about his life’s work – and how his Christian faith has motivated him to disregard his own safety and bring new hope to women who would otherwise be looking ahead to a life of ostracism and pain.
Programme link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct424j
This programme contains accounts of sexual violence against women and children which some listeners may find distressing. If you have been affected by sexual abuse or violence, details of help and support in the UK are available at BBC Action Line.
Our thanks to Actions Santé des Femmes for granting us permission to use some sound from their video about the Panzi Hospital.
Picture alt text:
Dr Denis Mukwege at Panzi Hospital
Alexis Huguet for the Panzi Foundation.