Dr. Denis Mukwege

by Abigail Richardson from MY HERO Staff

Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist and Pentecostal pastor, is renowned for his extraordinary work at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he provides specialized care to women who have endured the horrors of sexual violence perpetrated by armed rebels. His dedication to healing and justice has earned him global recognition, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, which he shared with Nadia Murad for their joint efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict zones.

Born on 1 March 1955 in Belgian, Congo—today the Democratic Republic of the Congo—Mukwege is the third of nine children born to a Pentecostal minister and his wife. He almost died at birth due to an infection but was saved by the Swedish Pentecostal missionary and midwife Majken Bergman. Mukwege decided to study medicine after seeing the complications that women in the Congo experienced during childbirth who had no access to specialist healthcare, and he wanted to heal the sick people for whom his father prayed.

So, after graduating with a medical degree from the University of Burundi in 1983, Mukwege worked as a pediatrician in the rural Lemera Hospital near Bukavu. However, after witnessing the suffering of women during childbirth who had no access to specialist healthcare, he decided to study gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Angers, France, obtaining his Masters and completing his medical residency in 1989.

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 After completing his medical studies, he returned to establish Panzi Hospital in 1999. Since its inception, Panzi Hospital has treated more than 82,000 patients with complex gynecological damage and trauma. Mukwege's expertise in treating the complex gynecological injuries inflicted upon survivors has earned him a reputation as a leading authority in the field. His work extends beyond medical treatment; he advocates tirelessly for justice, despite facing threats to his own safety and the hospital's.

Despite numerous challenges, including an assassination attempt in 2012, Mukwege remains steadfast in his mission. He continues to amplify the voices of survivors and demand accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence. The Panzi Foundation, established to support the hospital's work, reflects Mukwege's holistic approach to care, providing legal aid, psycho-social support, and economic empowerment to survivors.

At 13 years of age, Mukwege decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a Pentecostal minister, which was a transformative experience for him. He later said: "I started to speak in tongues. My whole being was filled with heat and a certainty that I was not alone. The experience was so overwhelming that I knew my life was forever changed by that moment." Apart from working as a doctor, he partly ministers in a Pentecostal church in Bukavu with 700 members. Mukwege has repeatedly named his faith in Jesus Christ as a primary motivation for his work at Panzi.

The Mukwege Foundation is an international rights-based, survivor-centred organisation working to change the global response to conflict-related sexual violence. Find out more:

Page created on 5/13/2024 1:07:42 PM

Last edited 5/15/2024 4:56:58 PM

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