Micheline is a project coordinator with the Sonke Gender Justice Network in South Africa, promoting the health and rights of the refugee community.
Her own experiences growing up as a refugee have shaped Micheline’s dedication to support others who are dealing with trauma and seeking a brighter future.
Micheline’s parents escaped the political instability of Burundi to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. She was born and raised in eastern Congo, among the conflict and war that saw widespread attacks on civilians.
In her youth, she had a choice as to whether to respond to the violence with violence or peace. She chose the path of an activist, working with the United Nations in Burundi to document cases of gender-based violence during the civil war, which ended in 2005.
When her family was resettled in Canada, Micheline refused to go—saying her work was not yet done in Africa.
Now living and working in South Africa, she works with the refugee population that has fled the violence in eastern Congo—providing everything from interpretation to workshops for women dealing with the trauma of displacement and sexual violence, among other issues. Micheline helps the women adapt to their news lives in South Africa – and move past trauma.
Micheline and the Sonke team face significant challenges. South African society is struggling with rocketing levels of sexual violence, with a woman being raped very 27 seconds in South Africa. Sonke Gender Justice Network takes a unique approach in focusing its work on men and boys— their relationships with women, and how men can reduce violence, reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, and promote human rights.
With a vibrant community mobilization program, Sonke is working across the country to engage men in the conversation on ending sexual violence.
“Men must be onboard to support women, because you can’t [end gender based violence] alone. You can’t fight this battle alone,” says Micheline.
Micheline says while her work is challenging, the vision of an Africa free from gender violence and one of gender equality pushes her to keep moving forward.
Watch Micheline speak about ending sexual violence in the PSA for the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
The Nobel Women’s Initiative and the Sonke Gender Justice Network are active members of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, the first ever global collaboration between Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict. Join the campaign!
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