V-World Farm, a project of Eve Ensler’s V-Day, is a cooperative farm and recovery center for survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo near V-Day’s successful City of Joy (Bukavu, DRC). The City of Joy compound was created to be a safe refuge for women and girls who are survivors of rape and sexual torture which is widely perpetrated as a war tactic by corporate funded militias throughout the DRC.  Within the protected environment of City of Joy, residents undergo necessary medical treatment along with a transformative healing and educational empowerment process.  They learn leadership skills by “turning pain into power” that can be taken back into the community when it is safe to do so.  V-World Farm, located 20km south of City of Joy, is a sustainable farm that provides food and employment for graduates of the program and an opportunity to heal by healing the Earth.

We cannot just protect the women, we must teach how to protect the environment, to feed mother nature who feeds us. Congo is the second lung of humanity. We need these trees to breathe.” –Christine Schuler Deschryver, co-founder of City of Joy

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center was invited by the 11th Hour Project and Eve Ensler from V-Day to help facilitate a participatory permaculture design process whereby V-Day and the women it supports can realize their own vision for the development of the V-World Farm. In 2013, OAEC’s Dave Henson, Brock Dolman and Lisa Mekkis traveled to City of Joy to create a map of the land and facilitate the design of a long-term plan for diverse, sustainable, cooperatively managed agriculture based on direct input and decision making by women working the land. Currently, the farm employs 42 graduates of the City of Joy program and grows abundant fruit, vegetables, cassava, rice, tilapia, honey, meat and eggs both for City of Joy residents’ consumption and for sale to local markets which has grown into a substantial source of income. Over 20,000 trees have been planted since the land was transferred to V-World Farm.

There is a new documentary about City of Joy.  Watch the trailer here!

Shown here with Brock Dolman and Eve Ensler is Doctor Denis Mukwege, the Congolese gynecologist who has worked tirelessly to treat the sexual trauma endured by the women of City of Joy in his Panzi hospital.  He has been known to say that “there is no medical solution” to this type of violence and has been a vocal advocate for peace and an unflinching champion of women’s rights on the political stage. The OAEC crew was fortunate enough to be with him at the One Billion Rising event in Congo. He was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2018.