All images courtesy of Vlisco.
Specialist fabric maker Vlisco has launched a collection for the City of Joy, a women’s community in the Democratic Republic of Congo for survivors of the catastrophic, ongoing conflict. The collection is made up of five printed super-wax fabric patterns, with approximately 100 different, vivid colours, created using the traditional techniques of wax printing. The fabric designs, which depict a journey from pain to power and sorrow to joy, pay tribute to the vagina and the natural beauty of the Congo region. All the profits from the sale of the collection will be donated by Vlisco to the City of Joy.
City of Joy is a transformational leadership community for women; survivors of rape and mutilation by soldiers and civilians, who use women as weapons of war. Located in Bukavu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, it provides a place for them to overcome pain and stigma to emerge as confident leaders, ready to go back to their communities.
During a visit to the City of Joy, Gabriela Sanchez y Sanchez de la Barquera, designer for Vlisco, was asked by the women there if she would design prints for them that would honour the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Denis Mukwege, the surgeon who, with his team of doctors, has physically healed them. Awed by the strength of the women she met there, she created the City of Joy Collection, which tells the story of the women who have made the journey from suffering to a place of love and hope. The fabrics are marked by the words ‘Love’, ‘Respect’ and ‘Strength’ and reflect their healing and renewal through sisterhood, love and mutual respect.
City of Joy is run by Congolese staff and was founded by writer of The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler, Christine Schuler Deschryver and Dr Denis Mukwege. It opened in 2011, providing a place for women to heal themselves from their past trauma through therapy and life skills programming, while giving them essential support needed to help them move forward in life.
You can buy fabric from the City of Joy collection here: www.vlisco.com