In the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, attacks and rape at the hands of roaming militias can be a devastating feature of everyday life. For Masika Katsuva, these experiences form a brutal part of her past, but they have been instrumental in inspiring her to help others who have had similar experiences.
She works to offer shelter to the survivors of violence, as well as giving them the tools that they need to re-build their lives. Her website also features an amazing blog containing the stories of the many she has helped.
They call her Mama Masika. Members of her community, residents of a village in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, know Rebecca Masika Katsuva as a town mother.
In the DRC, where rape is deployed as a war strategy, Masika provides its victims with a safe shelter, and gave the psychological support they desperately needed. She is there to feed them, to listen to them, to protect them, and to give them new hopes. As part of the practical and psychological support Masika provided to rape victims, she always takes care of their children. She has helped survivors stand again on their own feet, and managed day to day life tasks for them while they did so.
The violence that Masika suffered and witnessed in her own personal life that mirrors the horrific experiences of the community she serves. The unstoppable human rights defender saw her husband being brutally killed, and she herself was raped four times. Masika witnessed the rape of her two teenager daughters and her little sister. She could have – and perhaps did, momentarily – lost hope at many points in her life, but her work for and with the community continues.