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Physical and emotional Care to disable girls and women victims of sexual abuse in rural areas of South-Kivu, Bukavu.

CDJP-Bukavu intends to provide comprehensive physical and emotional care to the disable girls and women mostly victims of sexual abuse.

Photo of mema Mapenzi
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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

The disable girls and women living in rural areas of Bukavu are the most vulnerable in normal situation and also in war situation. Their families always neglect them, consider them useless and stigmatise them due to their disability. Mostly they are sexual abused by family and or community members. Their situation becomes worse when they are pregnant because their families abandon them in street.To help them, CDJP-Bukavu intends to provide comprehensive physical and emotional health care through the Listening Rooms, the spaces where they can come to talk about their problems and be listened to with compassion. Then provide emotional and health services according to their needs and, integrate them into their communities through activities.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

- Is it possible to one person to be safe while thousands of people around him/her are not safe? - Where is the people’s humanity when the most vulnerable are abused in front of us? - Why policies are sometimes discriminative to the vulnerable people?

Explain Your Idea

If the disable girls and women are welcomed in the Listening Rooms, they will feel comfortable to share their traumatic situation. This will be an opening door to provide them services to cure their physical and emotional problems. Then they will be able to work for themselves and their families and communities will find them useful. As a matter of fact, they will reduce to stigmatise them and will have positive view about them. In this way, the disable girls and women will have positive emotional life.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

- Implementation of Space to listen to the disable girls and women victims of sexual abuse and Recruitment of The Social Assistants to accompany the vulnerable girls and women - Physical and emotional care to the disable girls and women - Community awareness to adopt positive behaviours toward the disable people and punishment of the abusers.

How is your idea unique?

- The idea is unique because it seeks to find a global solution. By working with the victims, the communities and the perpetrators. In this way it contributes to prevent further problems, find solution to the problems and provide positive behaviour for the future to reduce and end the vulnerability of the disable girls and women.

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

How the national government can consider the situation of the disable girls and women as a priority.

Who are your end users?

The direct beneficiaries for this idea are the disable girls and women victims of sexual abuse living in the villages areas of Bukavu (1000 girls and women). The other people are the communities where they live, their children, their families… 3,000, 000 people living in the project zone.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Democratic Republic of Congo

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Community at risk of disaster
  • Other

What is your organization's name?

Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission of Bukavu, CDJP-Bukavu

Tell us more about you.

I am Thérèse Mema Mapenzi, I work at CDJP-Bukavu in the department of Women and peace dynamic, as a Coodinator of Sexual violence programme. For 10 years, I've been working in this field and have good team in the region.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Locally/community-led organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Regional - within countries in 1 geographic region

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

Democratic Republic of the Congo, South-Kivu, Bukavu

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: Tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.




Join the conversation:

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Hi mema Mapenzi and team!

An important reminder, Refinement Phase closes this Thursday, October 26 at 11:30pm PST.

We can only consider complete submissions, so please make sure that you have reviewed the Feedback and Refinement Phase Checklists and answered all of the questions on the platform. Note that we added one more multiple choice question to the end of the form.

If you're having trouble figuring out how to edit your idea, please refer to this guidance:

Best of luck!

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Hi mema Mapenzi and Team,

We’re excited to share feedback and questions with you from a set of experts that are supporting this Challenge.

We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve your idea, whether that’s refining it or adding more context. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process, but all critical information should be in the body of your contribution somewhere.

*The project offers an ‘inclusive’ solution to trauma associated with sexual violence amongst PLWD.
*We’d like to learn more about how you’ll facilitate your idea: trained signers? Peer-to-peer support groups? Etc.
*A strength of this initiative is that it focuses on the overlapping vulnerabilities affecting disabled women, and the heightened risk that they be exposed to sexual exploitation and violence.
*What will your comprehensive approach entail by considering all barriers to empowerment?
*How have PLWD been engaged in the development of the idea?
*We’d like to learn more about your team’s expertise and experience in planning for, communicating with, and accessing PLWD.
*It would be great to learn more about the context that you’re working within: How is disability increasing the risk of abuse and decreasing access to services? How is community attitude heightening vulnerability and what mechanisms may strengthen integration in communities? How is men's attitude towards women and girls helping drive abuse? And how are attitudes on violence within the household conducive to violence? Barriers to employment and poverty increasing vulnerability?
*Looking at how to cater for women and girls with disabilities is a fairly unexplored issue, for the benefit of an extremely underserved population group, so the initiative is quite novel.
*Beyond psychosocial support, are you considering addressing other needs such as mediation, or poverty alleviation?
*There is a lot of related expertise in the region (Handicap International, Helpage, COMPAS, etc.), and it would be great to develop this in close consultation with other experts, livlihoods and economic deveopment professionals, private sector, the community, and with the end users.

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit ( for inspiration on crafting strong and compelling stories as well as the recorded Office Hour ( Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - the last day to make changes to your contribution on the OpenIDEO platform is October 26 at 11:30PM PST.

Have questions? Email us at

We look forward to reading more, and thank you for the important work that you are doing!

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Mema, thanks for contributing to the Challenge and sharing the important work you are doing. In the 'Explain Your Idea' section would love to learn in a little more detail what you envision for this program and how specifically you plan to make accommodations for girls with disabilities?

Looking forward to better understanding the work you are doing and your idea for this Challenge!

Photo of mema Mapenzi

Dear Ashley,
Many thanks for your feedback! For this programme my envision are to help the disable girls and women feel comfortable to stay with their handicap by having positive view on themselves, to educate the families and communities to respect the disable girls and women, to accept them without marginalising them. For me the better way to help the disable girls and women victims of sexual abuse is to provide them spaces, Listening Rooms, where they can feel comfortable to share their worries, problems, need and fear and get support to find ways to resolve their problems. The families and communities consider them as invalid persons but they are not really invalid because some of them are able to sing, to cultivate, and to produce artistic staffs and so one and this should make them important in the community. Living with physical handicap should not be for exclusion.
To make accommodation for girls and women with disabilities we need to build for them houses; but the first and best houses they need are our hearts, respect and compassion. In the villages areas the girls and women with disabilities are seen as useless persons. The worse handicap for them is being born disable girls, it means the fact of being handicapped girls increases their vulnerability. So it is not the problem of being physical handicap but social handicap which is based on gender. Being a woman itself is considered as handicap. Most of women in my villages have good education level but the fact that they are women; they do not have opportunities to use their potentials. If women and girls in general are victims of social discrimination, the disable girls and women have no voice.
This is the reason why, I intend to provide space for the most victims of the gender rejection to find space to talk about their problems and get support to discover their potentials. They should first have self-esteem before breaking the social barriers that exist in their families and communities. For instance if they are willing to work and not stay vulnerable, then other people will respect them.
To make this possible, some steps will be followed:
- Community awareness on the problem of the disable women and girls victims of sexual abuse, this will be done in the communities through media, civil society organisations, faith organisations and local leaders. Discussions will be organised with families and community leaders.
- Identify the direct victims and the disable girls and women who may be subject of sexual abuse in future and train them or assist them.
- Welcome the victims, the survivors and or potential victims in the Listening Rooms and assist them according to their need. The assistance and the strategy to be used will depend on the need of the victim. For instance some may be met in their houses, families or location whereas others may wish to reach us in the trauma Centre or Listening Room; in the same way there may be some who were abused and who know their perpetrators and need to go to justice, others may be abused but did not get health care… The assistance will depend on the specific case of the vulnerable person. My strategy is not to bring these people outside their locations, but create a space in the communities where they can get access to any information for their wellbeing.
- Advocacy toward the Local Leaders: this will be about responsibility of the authorities to provide sufficient care to the girls and women disable in particular but also the other disable in general. For example, the disable people do not have the chance to (go to school, toilette…) get access to different services like other people, the infrastructure build by the states do not take into account their vulnerabilities but also reject them. If the state considers the problem of the disable people to access to different services, then their stigmatisation will be reduced. And the disable girls and women will discover new open doors.

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Thanks for the helpful response! Is there any any chance you could add an image or drawing to go along with submission? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there.

For inspiration check out our Anatomy of an Amplify Idea visualization: + some tips on adding visual goodness to your idea:

And don’t forget to have your Idea finalized and submitted by September 17 at 11:30PM PT!

Photo of mema Mapenzi

Dear Ashley,
I am sorry to respond late to your mail. I was in the villages with no access to internet. May i add more ideas?
is it late to respond? I really do not have the pictures with me now but I have a many stories of women and girls, sharing me their problems. I will have them tomorrow

Photo of mema Mapenzi

My name is Thérèse Mema Mapenzi, I have been working for the CDJP-Bukavu as Coordinator of the Trauma centres, Listening rooms for 10 years. My work is to support the vulnerable people, especially the victims of sexual violence to rebuild new life after trauma, after being abused. Since a year, I have met some women and girls, disables, who were abused and who came to talk about their situation. It is in this way that I want to share you the story of Mrs Wabo, a woman of 23 years with 4 children with different fathers.
Mrs WABO Sophia M ‘CERU is a woman with two-handed infirmity. She has lost the use of her hands when she was still a teenager. She lived with her uncle in Bukavu and one day coming from school, she took a donut over those her uncle's wife was selling. Upon her return from the market, her uncle's wife noticing that there is a missing of a donut in the bowl. So she took rubbers that she wrapped the girl's hands and putting on fire. The two hands of the poor girl were burned to the point of losing all use.
Now Wabo lives in Irambo, at 70 Km from Bukavu where she has children who do not know their fathers. She tells us her story:
Since my hands were burnt, I have become the most miserable person. I have returned to my father’s village because after burning my hands, my uncle’s wife has chased me from her house. Once in the village, I had no place to stay. My father’s family considered me as a big charge for them, without hands, no way to help them in their domestic tasks. I had to change different houses; with no stable life. I decided to find one my father’s brother to help me. I knew that my father had lands, unfortunately, I was a girl and in our culture a girl cannot inherit. My father’s brother did not want me to help me. He even prevented me to stay to his home. I used to sleep outside for so long period. But I was 16 when a relative of my mother abused on me. He promised to give me a home and to take care of me. Unfortunately from our sexual relation, I became pregnant and had my first born. I never want to talk about my life. I found another three men who abused on me, they usually promise me to give me economic assistance but they never. Being a physical handicap is a very bad thing in life, especially in my village where some people can even accuse you for witch. I have learnt to use my hands to take care of my children. A woman, who is also alone, has helped me with her house. It’s not really a house but it is better that outside. I live there with my four children.

Many disable women and girls are victims of abuse because of their poverty, vulnerability. The lose self-confident because their communities consider them as useless. Through this project, I wish to provide to these women and girls the possibilities to talk and share their problems, to analyse their strength and share successful stories, to learn how they can become autonomous to prevent further violence and to create self-esteem.