Media executive, producer, curator …
Connecting with women to create change.


September 6, 2018

The new Netflix original reveals the profound resilience of

Congolese women in the face of violence.

By Pat Mithell

A new documentary premiering on Netflix this month presents a powerful story of healing, hope and joy.

City of Joy follows the first class of women at a revolutionary leadership center in Congo, weaving their journey with that of City of Joy’s founders —

Congolese Women

playwright, activist founder of V-Day Eve Ensler; globally respected physician and anti-violence activist Dr. Denis Mukwege;

and the Congolese humanitarian leader Christine Schuler Deschryver.
Eve Ensler and Christine Schuler Deschryver (Credit: Todd Heisler/ The New York Times )
Eve Ensler and Christine Schuler Deschryver (Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

When Eve Ensler was invited by Dr. Mukwege to go to the Eastern DRC in 2007 to meet with and learn from women survivors of violence, she focused on what solutions the survivors felt would work in the face of such horrific violence.

Violence that was aimed at innocent victims in a conflict brought about in part by the global companies exploiting the Congo’s natural resources, coltan (used in our mobile phones) and other precious metals.

It was the innocent and targeted victims of this longterm conflict who birthed the idea of the City of Joy, saying what they most wanted was a safe place to live in community so that they could heal and reclaim and rebuild their lives.

They were looking for a place to turn their pain into power.

And so the “City of Joy,” the name the group of survivors that Eve met at Panzi on that first visit had chosen for their community, emerged as an idea.

Construction for the City of Joy began in August 2009 under the leadership of Christine Schuler Deschryver just down the road from Panzi Hospital in Bukavu.

V-Day opened the City of Joy with a high-profile ceremony in February 2011 and the first class of women began in June 2011.

I travelled to Bukavu with Eve for that memorable opening, nearly five years after the funds had been raised, largely by the V-Day board on which I am proud to serve, and activists.


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