City Of Joy’s riveting and powerful expose of the sexual abuse that has destroyed the East Democratic Republic Of Congo and how a revolutionary center has saved the women affected will immediately inspire anyone that watches it.
The exposure from the documentary means that the future is beginning to look very positive for City Of Joy.
During my recent discussion with director Madeleine Gavin and co-founder Christine Schuler-Deschryver the pair provided an update on some of the individuals involved, City Of Joy itself, while also revealing how viewers can help the women and the facility.
Whats the latest with Dr Mukwege?
Christine: He’s still there with bodyguards. And so am I. We all lost our freedom. I think that’s the cost when you believe in a cause and you decide to continue despite what people say and all of the obstacles. I think I am like this and he is like that and we will continue that way. I think it is a good sacrifice. Because doing so has given so much for me.
Madeleine: That was so important for me, because the devotion that Christine, Dr Mukwege and Eve have as founders of City Of Joy for each other and for the girls, and vice versa, it is amazing. Christine and Dr Mukwege have largely lost their freedom. Everyday this is what they are doing now. That is unbelievable. You don’t see that devotion that much.
Have the women from “City Of Joy” seen the film?
Christine: We had a screening. It was really funny. Because the first was 2011, and when they see themselves 7 years later they are so shocked at how different they are. The women have jobs now and it is just amazing to see them as young women, because then they were young, homeless girls. It proved that there is life after all of the violence that they saw.
Madeleine: Over 1100 girls have graduated from City Of Joy. They are back and changing their communities from the ground up. That was something that Christine and Dr Mukwege spoke about from the beginning, that change is from the grassroots. It isn’t about getting things from people and being dependent on that. It is about allowing people empowering themselves and change their country.
Talk about the importance of this film being released on Netflix.
Madeleine: Oh my God. We’re still in shock that this is even happening. We are so grateful and excited. Netflix is sending us photos of billboards all over Los Angeles and New York, it is just incredible when you think about the women in Congo that have suffered for so long without the world giving a damn or paying attention in a meaningful way. The idea that we are now going to be in 190 countries and that these women’s voices will be heard is unbelievable. Netflix has the power to do that and we are so thrilled and grateful that they loved this film and wanted to jump on board. I think because of the scope of the Netflix release people being educated about what is going on in Congo and how we are connected through the devices that we buy and just being aware and investigating who companies are supporting, are they using Congo’s minerals or are they not, so there are many levels to this.
Christine: I think what is very important is for people to know that the war in Congo is not over. Even if people don’t talk about it anymore. City Of Joy is more than a place it is a metaphor. Our dream is to build more City Of Joy’s because so many more countries are asking for them. There’s Kabul, more cities across Congo, and we need that to happen because if you can work with the grassroots you can make change. I feel like the women that came from City Of Joy are a force against Congo because they renounce the violence, they do something about their community. That is so important, so I feel like we have reached our goal.
“City Of Joy” is now available on Netflix.