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DW spoke to Monika Hauser who founded medica mondiale 20 years ago. DW: When you started operations in Zenica it was in the middle of a war zone, and people initially dismissed the idea, saying it was crazy. What kept you going? Monika Hauser: I just had to do it.
There were no doubts. I think I was highly motivated, and I found the right people, and we were rather successful in supporting women despite the situation there. No, of course not. Initially it was just in order to build up meaningful and effective support for traumatized women in Bosnia, but, step by step, we went on and a big organization developed. What does your organization do to help victims of sexual violence in Bosnia and elsewhere?
Women in Liberia learn new skills such as sewing - this will enable them to become economically independent. First of all, we support them with professional help: medical support, gynecological support, always in conjunction with psycho-social support. This has to be given in a very safe place, in a very safe and a good atmosphere for the survivors. We call them survivors and not victims because we do not want to create any further victimization of women who have survived all that horror.
We have to qualify the local staff so that they can perform this important work in a sustainable way. Our philosophy is that you have to work in a sustainable way. That means we educate local staff and we hand over these projects. We are very proud, especially with regard to the program in Afghanistan, that after only nine years we were able to hand it over to our 70 Afghan colleagues.