Experienced humanitarian workers stress the importance, in responding to such crises, of supporting organizations within the region, so as to develop and invest in their skills. Medica Women's Association, based in Zenica, Bosnia-Hercegovina, is just such a local NGO. It was set up in 1993 at the height of the aggression in Bosnia, as a resource for women raped and traumatized in those wars, and for their children. Since then it has treated 20,000 patients and given therapy to over 2000 women.
The staff of Medica Zenica are Bosnian women doctors, gynaecological specialists, psycho-therapists and nurses. They are well qualified to help both the new influx of women refugees streaming into Bosnia from Kosova, and also those in camps in Albania. They have learned fast, under the stress of war, the most effective responses to rape and other forms of war trauma. Some have themselves been refugees.
The principles for therapy with traumatized women evolved by Medica Zenica are:
Monika Hauser, gynaecologist, and initiator of Medica Zenica, now works through Medica Mondiale, in Cologne, Germany, supporting Medica Zenica and other initiatives employing the same principles.
Medica Mondiale have entered into a partnership with three Albanian women's organizations with experience of running shelters and counselling projects for women suffering from domestic violence and rape. Together they have set up a new project. It is called 'Medica Kosova: Women for Women' - in Albanian the phrase is 'Grate per Grate'.
Medica Zenica will provide Medica Kosova's professional expertise in psycho-social crisis intervention. Recently back from a visit to Albania, Monika Hauser says, 'Albanian and Kosovan women know the language and culture, they know best about the living conditions of the women. It will need a lot of patience to build up relationships of trust which make support of the traumatized women possible.'
Detailed costings for the initiative are in process of preparation. What we are asking you for now is a contribution to get the project under way. Women are already there in the field, working on a shoestring. Medical treatment of abused and tortured women cannot wait. And, if women are not to be retraumatized in the process of treatment, it must be provided from the start in a context of psycho-social care.
I hope very much that your organization will want to respond generously and quickly. £100,000 is needed at a minimum to get the project established. More will be needed later. But whatever amount you can give right now will make a real difference to these women.
This appeal is co-ordinated, in co-operation with WOMANKIND Worldwide, by Dr. Cynthia Cockburn of the Department of Sociology, City University London, who has worked professionally with Medica for five years.
Please write cheques to 'Medica' and either send them to the address below, or draft funds directly to the bank account indicated.
Medica, PO Box 9560, London NW5 2AH. Tel/fax 0171 482 5670. E-mail: email@example.comShould your organization be obliged to donate the funds to a registered charity, WOMANKIND Worldwide will be pleased to act as a conduit to Medica Kosova.'Medica', Account No. 0562837
Lloyds Bank Ltd
London NW5 2LP
Sort Code 30-94-66
WOMANKIND Worldwide, 3 Albion Place, Galena Road, London W6 OLT. Tel 0181 563 8607, fax 0181 563 8611. firstname.lastname@example.org
'During our visit to Albania we have seen gravely traumatized women trying, with an unbelievable will to survive, struggling to hold their lives, and their children's lives, together. A young woman from Durres, mother of seven children, told us her story. Her village was under shellfire for five hours. All the men were killed by Serb soldiers. The remaining village inhabitants were taken to a warehouse that had been transformed into a prison. They were held there for several days. Twenty young girls from the group were taken out by Serb soldiers. Two days and nights later they came back, 'half dead'. She was released after three days and walked to the frontier, alone with her seven children. As she left she caught sight of her husband standing behind a first floor window. She does not know whether he is still alive.'
Dr. Monika Hauser, April 1999