Healing Unseen Wounds
In the center of Kosovo’s capital city, Prishtina, sits Heroinat, a striking monument dedicated to the nation’s estimated 20,000 victims of war-time rape. While the nation anonymously pays them tribute, these survivors of the 1998–1999 war in Kosovo still struggle to give voice to their pain.
Rather than finding justice, this community of women has been marginalized by society and rejected by their families. Many were divorced by their husbands and put out of their homes. Others have kept their secret from their family members, fearing the consequences should anyone discover what was done to them.
Today, these women continue to live with unseen wounds of psychological trauma, shame, and marginalization. The judicial system has failed them, and they are victimized a second time by a society that sees their suffering as a shame upon their families.
Alliance Missions in Kosovo has partnered with the Dardania network of churches to address this significant need. In the Drenica region of Kosovo the project, Healing Unseen Wounds, is helping war-rape victims using a two-pronged approach to bring healing and Christ’s love to this overlooked and underserved community of survivors.
First, Healing Unseen Wounds seeks to provide trauma counseling to help heal emotional wounds. In August 2019, the project held its first trauma counseling event led by CAMA worker Lisa Ramsey, bringing together over 30 women.
The women were initially wary, since they are usually asked to dredge up painful memories and retell their stories of assault. However, at the end of the training the women’s center director exclaimed, “We don’t feel this today, we feel energized and hopeful, and that’s different. We didn’t have to talk about what happened to us, and the activities really helped us feel better.”
EMPOWERING IMPOVERISHED WOMEN
Second, Healing Unseen Wounds provides microenterprise investments. With the purchase of a cow, beehive, greenhouse, or sewing machine, women can meet their basic needs and generate a modest income. Connie Seale of the aXcess team and I are leading English classes, building relationships with women, and helping to identify those who will be recipients of these funds.
These simple investments bring hope. Since the project began, Healing Unseen Wounds has helped five families with investments such as these, but the need is great. There are still many survivors living at or below the poverty line, and Healing Unseen Wounds is eager to empower more women to provide for themselves and their families.
Alliance Women has set a goal of raising $32,000 for the Healing Unseen Wounds project. This money will provide two years of trauma counseling through mental health workshops and two years of business consulting and funds for women to purchase beehives, sewing machines, cows, and greenhouses. Prayers and financial gifts are appreciated. For more information, visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.