I came across a brief write-up on an exhibition that took place this past week in London, England on a Canadian Healthcare site of all places. It made me pause and look further and I am glad I did.
The exhibition titled: “I Dream of Congo: Narratives from the Great Lakes” was a 5 day event where contributions from renowned photographers and writers alongside photos and words from women in eastern Congo responding to the phrase ‘I Dream of Congo.’ This was in collaboration with Women for Women International.
I Dream of Congo presents the reflections and aspirations of people from the eastern DRC—a place affected by war for more than a decade. But it is not stories of chaos and heartache that predominate, rather the hopes and dreams of individuals speak powerfully through these photographs.
A sense of optimism despite years of conflict is relayed through many of the images, both eye-catching and unadorned, private and public. Yet even in the expression of aspiration and hope, personal suffering is also painfully evident. The terrible consequences of the potent weapons of war that are rape and violence, an awful familiarity to many, many Congolese women, is ever present—sexually transmitted diseases, mental health issues, unwanted pregnancy, physical abuse, violence, and death are addressed in the pictures.
After viewing some of the photos the words that come to mind are hope, peace and strength. My desire is for this exhibit to bring awareness to the issues that are faced by the residents of the Democratic Republic of Congo; particularly women who have been used, abused and treated poorly. It is only through awareness, education, and sharing the atrocities of what has occurred and are still occurring in the Congo with others, that change might happen. A country torn apart by war for years. Those of us in North America have no idea.
The exhibit will continue to be shown throughout the UK and will then go to the U.S. during the 2013 year.
Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW
SJS Staff Writer in Canada