I am writing this article to ensure the good people of the Riel constituency that, although there have been recent changes at the Manitoba legislature, I am still and most certainly your MLA and look forward to continuing to work with you in our community.
The Riel Constituency Office is, as many of you know, located on the southeast corner of St. Mary’s Road and Meadowood and I can be reached by phone at 204-253-5162 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to drop by, phone or email anytime. It would be great to hear from you.
I am also continuing with my Share the Magic book program and am happy to report that I have given away almost 185,000 books. Just before the winter holidays of 2013, I gave away 50,000 books in partnership with the Winnipeg School Division, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and Morrow Avenue Child Care.
Thanks to this partnership, children throughout Manitoba took new books home during their winter holiday. If you know of any group who could benefit from receiving books, please let me know, and a very big thanks to all of you who have so generously donated books to this program in the past.
Taking care of each other locally is very important and reaching out globally is equally so. Having just celebrated International Women’s Day, I want to share with you another initiative that I am working on. This message is a hard one to hear and may be upsetting. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) located in Central Africa, sexually-based gender violence is not a crime and women are violated without any hope of seeking justice. Dr. Denis Mukwege, a medical doctor and surgeon, specializing in gynecology and obstetrics opened the Panzi Hospital in Eastern DRC in 1998. The hospital has become known worldwide for the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and women with severe gynecological problems.
Dr. Mukwege is a tireless advocate for the rights of women in the DRC. He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the matter and regularly travels abroad raising awareness of the situation in Eastern DRC. In between responsibilities managing and administering Panzi Hospital and overseeing projects at the Panzi Foundation, he continues to see patients and perform surgery two days a week.
Dr. Mukwege is honouring Manitoba by coming here in late March. On March 27, he will be speaking at the Pantages Theatre, along with Senator General (ret’d) Roméo Dallaire, Dr. Samantha Nutt — Founder of War Child North America, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy and Dorothe Kobali, a woman of Congo.
The evening will also include performances by Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo) and Ian D’Sa (Billy Talent) and Cone McCaslin (Sum 41). Tickets vary in price and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.ca or via phone 204 780-SEAT (7328).
Unfortunately, Dr. Mukwege does not receive the sort of support he should among his fellow countrymen and he was attacked shortly after returning to his home in Bukavu, South Kivu, DRC on Oct. 25 2012, where he found armed men threatening his children with guns. He narrowly escaped being shot by diving on the ground, as gunmen opened fire on him. One of Dr. Mukwege’s security guards was killed in the attack as he tried to protect him. Although it is unclear if the assassination attempt was directly linked to his activities, Dr. Mukwege has been threatened several times by armed groups for his denunciation of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
He has been the recipient of several awards including, but not limited to, the UN Human Rights Prize in 2008, African of the Year in 2009, and the Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2011, as well as being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, including in 2014.
For more information or to make a donation to Panzi Hosptial, contact www.makemusicmatter.org or email email@example.com.
I hope that you will consider supporting Dr. Mukwege and the Women of Panzi.