This past weekend we lost a visionary, a fighter for women’s rights, and a “mama” to so many women and girl survivors of sexual violence in Congo. On March 18th, co-founder and Program Director of HEAL Africa Lyn Lusi passed away from terminal cancer. Lyn dedicated her life to the women and girls of Congo. According to HEAL Africa’s website, she first arrived in 1971 and worked in school and hospital administration in northeastern Congo (Nyankunde) for 19 years. In 2000 Lyn and her husband Dr. Kasereka (“Jo”) Lusi, founded HEAL Africa, a Congolese-led organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working to eradicate poor health, poverty and the oppression of women. HEAL Africa has performed more than 1,500 post-rape fistula repair surgeries, provided primary care and counseling to more than 40,000 women, established 31 Safe Houses, trained 90,000 community activists in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and funded more than 1,500 micro grants for families.
V-Day has worked closely with Lyn and HEAL Africa since 2007, and though our hearts are heavy, Lyn will continue to inspire us daily.
Eve wrote this tribute to Lyn upon hearing the sad news of her passing –
Lyn Lusi died last night. She was the founding director of Heal Africa in Goma. She healed thousands of lives, saved and lifted thousands of others. She was safety. She was home. She was possibility. I want to write about her heart. I want to write about her devotion to the women and the girls and healthcare and education and stopping AIDS. I want to write about her consistency and tenacity, about her kindness and her roses. She planted gardens. There are blossoms all over the DRC. I want to write about dancing with Lyn in Goma and sitting with her at fancy fundraisers in London and cheering with her just this January for the women graduates from Heal Africa at City of Joy in Bukavu. I want to talk about her being a teacher of service and a mentor of listening and a mother of compassion. Lyn was what care looks like and devotion and finding a way through and absorbing pain and turning it to magic and power. I want to write about Lyn’s love for Congo and all the ways she manifested that love. She literally gave her being and body. No one will ever replace her. They couldn’t. What we can do in her name, in her legacy is open our hearts further, listen deeper, serve more gently and fight more fiercely for what she loved, the women, the Congo. We can devote ourselves in her name to the time, may it be soon, when the Congolese rise to take their country, their minerals, their rights, their bodies, their future born from a soil that her love made rich. I loved Lyn. She was my friend and my sister. I will miss her deeply.