Letter from Rose

Posted on March 29, 2011

Rose Mapendo survived a Congolese death camp and lived to reflect on the experience in the documentary Pushing the Elephantairing tonight on Independent Lens. Prior to the film’s national broadcast, Rose wanted to share her personal perspective with viewers.


I thank God for what He has done to keep me alive until this day. I am very happy that this movie made by Arts Engine is going to air this month allowing more people to see and know unspeakable struggles of a mother forced to separation with her daughter and a woman whose husband was tortured and executed leaving her to care for 9 children in a death camp without help and hope to survive.

I hope people will visualize pain, hopelessness and helplessness of a loving mother to give up her daughter to be raped in order to save the life of her son and realize how my daughter Aimee is a true hero for her sacrifice for her brother and, later, her entire family. I am happy that this documentary speaks to the background of some of ITVS’s staff and will help all viewers to realize what is happening even today to countless individuals, families, and communities. 

To me, this documentary features my story and the story of countless other vulnerable women who do not have the privilege I had to be rescued and resettled to the United States and to have Arts Engine decide to make this documentary that is becoming a powerful tool we are using to bring social justice and forgiveness. It comforts me in my determination of being a voice for those voiceless to raise the awareness of what keeps on happening and to call for action to end violence against women, families, and humanity. 

To me, taking action is the responsibility of every human being, especially those living in a free world.  I decided to take action and to start Mapendo New Horizons. We want hopeless and discriminated (ethnic and gender-based discriminated) people to understand that there are new horizons we can focus and work on through FORGIVENESS, LOVE, RECONCILIATION, and PEACE through actions aimed to meet their urgent needs, solve their problems, and to empower them. Through what I experienced I understand what victims of violence and discrimination need not only to survive, but also to be empowered. We called this documentary Pushing the Elephant for a reason and a purpose because no one can push an elephant alone, which means no one can bring positive change alone. 

Please — let’s come together, share ideas, and take actions to save and empower those who are going through untold horrific stories — like me some years ago. There is nothing that can possibly explain my survival of 16 months in death camp without food, clean water, medical assistance during birth of twins on a concrete floor and in an unclean room I was sharing with 31 orphaned children, 4 women. —other than to be a witness and a voice to tell the world what is going on and to call for action. This is my life’s mission. 

Rose Mapendo



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