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Lions Roar : July 2019
Women of the Congo hadadreamofa sanctuary where their bodies could heal called The City of Joy. Ensler and V-Day made it a reality. draining it and needles bruising it and making it bleed. I was blood and poop and pee and puss. I was burning and nauseous and feverish and weak. I was of the body, in the body. I was body. Body. Body. Body. Cancer, a disease of pathologically dividing cells, burned away the walls of my separateness and landed me in my body, just as the Congo landed me in the body of the world.” Ensler says that throughout her treatments she needed to find ways to become someone other than just a cancer patient. One person who helped was Mama C, Ensler’s translator and guide in the Congo. She met Ensler’s phone calls with talk about the joy of a perfect mango, or about corruption in the City of Joy preparations, hiding nothing. Mama C brought the energy of life back to Ensler’s small world of hospital rooms and machines. Another way Ensler sought herself within can- cerwastoletgoofherself. “TheIofmehadrun out,” she writes. To help her navigate this new world of no self, Ensler turned to Buddhism. The day before her chemo started, she built an altar with a Tara statue, set down offerings of a pink shawl and trinkets, and repeated the mantra, “I need you now, Tara.” In June 2011, The City of Joy opened, to much celebration. Ensler, her hair now shorn, was there, three weeks after her last surgery, dancing as this dream of a place for women’s bodies to heal stood on solid ground. Fortified by this success and her continued work with V-Day, in 2012 Ensler helped found One Bil- lion Rising. It’s described on its website as “the biggest mass action to end violence against women (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender-based violence) in human history. The campaign began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at seven billion, this adds up to more than one billion women or girls.” One Billion Rising, among its many activities, calls out to women across the world to participate PHOTOBYPAULAALLEN LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 38