Cathleen de Kerchove
Cathleen de Kerchove was born in Belgium where she graduated from the Nursing School at ULB. Since her earliest childhood, she has wanted to understand and alleviate the suffering in general and in particular of children in armed conflicts. This is why she specialises in paediatrics and travels to discover other cultures. Thanks to her husband’s profession, she has had the chance to have lived in different countries. She is interested in local cultures and the issues she encounters.
Very quickly, her nursing background seemed insufficient to her and she began a postgraduate degree in applied psychology which was followed by numerous training courses aimed at supporting adults and children in their physical and emotional pain. She trained in craniosacral therapy and emotional somatic therapies, as well as in traumatology in the United States, and in acupuncture, Tuina massage, plantar reflexology and Qigong in China. In Rwanda she left with experience in EMDR and took advantage of a long stay in India to train in Yoga and Ayurveda.
She constantly learns and applies the various tools she knows are adapted to the environment in order to help local communities and expatriate families.
In 2015, when she returned to Belgium, she went on a mission to Iraq on behalf of a Singaporean NGO. She returns shocked by the testimonies she has received from Yazidi families and the serious violence committed on very young children. At the same time, she discovers a preview of Thierry Michel’s film “L’Homme qui Répare les Femmes”. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back; the anger that manifested in her at the sight of these barely eight-month girls that were raped gave way to action!
Doctor Mukwege (Nobel Peace Prize 2018) put her in contact with Véronique De Keyser, Belgian European Parliamentarian, Professor Emeritus of ULiège in Psychology. It is naturally that the idea of creating an association committed to finding answers and developing a protocol adapted to these very young children, victims of sexual violence and/or born of rape, was born. The non-profit organisation “Les Enfants de Panzi et d’ailleurs” was created in 2015 by these four committed women, Véronique De Keyser, Isabelle Durant, Marie Dominique Simonet and Cathleen de Kerchove.
At that time, the hospital of Panzi, South Kivu, DRC received young girls who were raped and disemboweled by the dozens. A first mission in the field made it possible to identify two villages from which the majority of the girls came. The program was born, the methodology was created and is still being perfected today.
Since 2020, Cathleen de Kerchove has taken over the presidency of the ASBL and continues to develop its action and partnerships. She travels regularly to the DRC, Iraq and has plans to go to Central Africa soon.