• Lumo
  • The Goma Film Project
  • Produced by Lyn Lusi
  • Run Time: 1 hr 12 min.
  • 4 out of 5 chapatis

Lumo is a documentary about the journey of one woman struggling to heal emotionally and physically from sexual violence. About five years ago in Democratic Republic of Congo, twenty year-old Lumo Sinai was attacked and raped by Interahamwe rebels in her village. Lumo was assaulted so violently that she developed a fistula, which left her incontinent and leaking urine constantly. The stigma of rape, along with the smell from her fistula made Lumo a pariah in her village and an outcast among her family. Fortunately, through outreach provided by Heal Africa Hospital in Goma, Lumo’s case was discovered and she was brought to the city for reconstructive surgery.

Many complicated themes emerge in this film, including: Why are some women healed while others aren’t? Is a fistula a punishment from God? What happens when you lose your faith? Are there real solutions to the problem of fistulas in DRC or will women  who return home be caught up again in the cycle of violence?

In my opinion, this film has many merits. Among them, is the fact that the filmmakers didn’t inject themselves into the film. The result is a fly on the wall feeling, and a Congolese perspective on an issue that is too often told through a Western viewpoint. Furthermore, the choice to examine the emotional, social, medical, and religious components of the healing process adds a great deal of depth to the film. For example, observing Lumo’s struggle with her faith as she looks forward to her fifth surgery after four unsuccessful operations, allows us a window into the important role that religion and clergy members can play in providing strength during times of illness. One area that the film might have improved upon, was in fleshing out the origins of the conflict in DRC. If viewers didn’t already have a substantial knowledge of the history of the Great Lakes Region, it might be difficult to understand exactly why sexual violence is so prevalent now.

In conclusion, I would recommend this film. It is thoughtful and not gratuitous. It presents insight into an important issue. However, if you are a survivor of physical or sexual violence this film could be triggering, so please take care.