This week, V visited the City of Joy and attended the graduation of the 21st class.
“Everything feels so terrible and difficult right now in so many places in the world where right wing fascism, extreme misogyny, and hate seems to be spreading faster than any virus we know. It is deadly and devastating to our bodies, beings and souls. But outside the colonizing, toxic patriarchal borders a new energy, a new way is rising. I am in the midst of it. I am full from it, and it is rising in the middle of extreme poverty, violence, and war. I am sharing these images from City of Joy and V-World Farm in the Congo that you may be healed, lifted, fed and transformed by this radical joy, grown out of the hearts of the most wounded who now radiate a light, a possibility that is far more powerful than the old world that is dying. This energy is grown from care and love and devotion and dance and poetry and sun and community and the earth.
I celebrate, honor and am in the deepest of awe of my sister and leader extraordinaire Christine Schuler Deschryver and every person who works at City of Joy for the concentrated lived experience of their mutual hearts. I celebrate my brother Dr. Denis Mukwege. I celebrate the 1,817 gorgeous, brilliant, brave girls who have graduated and are spreading seeds for this new world in every field and every person they meet. I celebrate our V-Day team and all they do to support City of Joy and all our amazing, dedicated funders who give so generously of their money energy that all this is possible. Thank you Carlos Schuler for all you have done, our new road and these beautiful pictures. And love, love to everyone who has helped make City of Joy a reality. Radical love. Love in the face of what seems impossible. We will triumph because we must.”
Ten years since it first opened, the City of Joy is thriving, with a network of 1817 graduates who are transforming the very fabric of Congolese society and inspiring women everywhere. Designed by Congolese survivors, it is a place that restores women’s sense of agency over their lives as they learn real, practical life skills to feed their futures, and connects them to the global V-Day movement, one billion strong. From the return of warmth and joy into women’s lives, to a reconnection to their bodies, to the empowerment each woman feels when she masters a new skill or acquires life-changing knowledge, the City of Joy gives women a platform to transform their pasts into fuel for a revolution of the mind, body, and community.
A woman who comes through the City of Joy is forever changed by it. She laughs more, she leads more, she gives more. 10 years of joy and counting… With gratitude for everyone who made the vision of City of Joy a reality, who have been the wind at our backs. It means the world to us.
City of Joy, the revolutionary leadership center for women survivors of gender violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was co-founded by Christine Schuler Deschryver (City of Joy Director and Director of V-Day Congo), Dr. Denis Mukwege (Nobel Laureate and Founder of the Panzi Hospital), and V (Founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising, playwright and activist).
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