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Sylvia’s Story

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Content Warning: Mentions Sexual Assault, Rape and Abortion

Sylvia is a woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who spent time at a home supported by WE International’s WE Restore program. She was raped and became pregnant. When she found herself trapped in a corner, the home was there to help her find a way out.

Sylvia story starts with a trip to visit a friend. Instead of finding her friend, her friend’s brother was there. He grabbed Sylvia and raped her. At that time Sylvia was only a teenager.

She told her parents about what happened. She did not know she was pregnant.


If a girl becomes pregnant in the DRC, she is asked to leave school. Sylvia left at the age of 15.

At first, Sylvia decided she would abort the pregnancy. While an abortion may be a relatively safe procedure in the US and other developed nations, abortions in the DRC are much less safe.

According to an article published in The Lancet, abortions in Middle Africa carry risks of dangerous complications. Over 80% of abortions performed in Middle Africa are considered unsafe.

According to a report published by the Guttmacher institute, even in the capital city of Kinshasa, 34% of women who choose to terminate their pregnancies are likely to have complications serious enough to warrant treatment in a health facility. Out of these, 77% will receive the needed care, while the remaining 23% will receive care in someplace other than a medical facility, or not at all.

Among abortion patients, 5% had no evidence of complications, 33% had mild complications, 46% had moderate complications and 16% had severe complications.

A Better Future

Sylvia heard about the home through a friend and sought help there. Medical staff helped her keep the pregnancy and supported her throughout. At the home sponsored by WEI, she learned to sew clothing to eventually become a seamstress.

She could earn $10 a day as a seamstress, well above what is considered a living wage in the DRC, $6.43 a day. The average person in the DRC earns the equivalent of $394.25 per year.

She will be able to build a life for herself and her child as a seamstress. She is living with her parents and working her way to a better future.

WE International is dedicated to helping victims of gender based violence in the third world. Our WE Restore program provides resources and support to homes and clinics like the one Sylvia spent time in.

Click here to watch Sylvia’s story.

Click here to contribute to our WE Restore program.

Works Cited

Lince-Deroche, Naomi Kayembe, Patrick, et. al. “Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: Challenges and Progress”. The Guttmacher Institute. December 2019.

Ganatra, Bela MD, Gerdts, Caitlin, PhD, et. al., “Global, regional, and subregional classification of abortions by safety, 2010-14: estimates from a Bayesian hierarchical model”. The Lancet. September 27, 2017.

Casey, Sara. “Attitudes towards abortion in the DRC suggest there are ways to overcome stigma”. The Conversation. March 15, 2021.

“Anker Living Income Reference Value”. Anker Living Wage and Living Income Research Institute. 2021.

Tasch, Barbara. “The 23 poorest countries in the world”. Business Insider. July 13, 2015.

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