I photographed Rebecca Masika Katsuva several times between 2012-2016 and was amazed by her resiliency, bravery and compassion. As an activist and a survivor of sexual assault, she continually sacrificed her safety to help other victims over the years. During the Second Congo War in 1999, attackers killed Masika’s husband and sexually assaulted her and her daughters, then 13 and 14. When they became pregnant as a result of the assaults, Masika and her daughters were forced to leave home after being disowned by her husband's relatives. That same year, Masika founded a ‘listening house’ at her home, located in the isolated village of Minova. A shelter for women to recover from violent acts, it provided medical help and consisted of several dozen houses for women to live in. In January 2009, former rebels, then newly integrated into the Congolese military, raped Katsuva for the fourth time. The former rebels said they attacked Katsuva because she accused them of assaulting women. Masika adopted 18 children over the years, all born of mothers who were sexually assaulted. In the decade before her death, in February 2016, she helped over 6,000 rape survivors.
On this day where we all pause to give thanks, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for so many blessings. My family, my friends, my health and career. But it seems fitting here to talk about how thankful I am for these three people. To @conradweres my right-hand-man, @l.badalamenti my voice of reason and @jessicagrever my ray of sunshine I am endlessly grateful for you. This business has grown beyond my wildest dreams thanks to the talent, dedication and passion of these three photographers. They are like family, and my heart overflows thinking about how far we have come together, and imagining what the future will bring 💙