Waris Dirie opened the first Desert Flower Center in Berlin five years ago.
Right from the beginning Dr. Cornelia Strunz has been part of the project, taking care of women, who have become victims of female genital mutilation, every day and are urgently in need of help.
Which experience has affected you most over the last years?
Every affected woman's fate is deeply moving!
The moment the women wake up after the reconstructive surgery and look at me expectantly with wide opened eyes is deeply touching!
Carefully they ask me if everything went well - their eyes are shining when I verify that everything is alright!
This moment is very intense every single time.
The feeling of happiness is indescribable when I see those tears of joy of these strong women!
... and this feeling of happiness grows everytime when these women return to the Center and give birth to their wonderful babies!
What is the biggest challenge for you in your professional life?
During their first personal consultation, many women are still anxious. It takes a lot to talk about these intimate problems, which are generally considered as a taboo-topic in their communities.
I have to convince them that they are safe and they can trust me.
How do you manage to handle these experiences emotionally?
Every fate affects me deeply. I try to help where I can. The women’s sparkling eyes/ The sparkling eyes of the women after the surgery help me to overcome the very challenging, emotional moments!
Often the women come from different countries and have been in Germany only for a short amount of time How do you communicate with the women?
We have a Somali translator in the Desert Flower Center to overcome all language barriers.
I empathize with the women and give them a feeling of safety. We offer excellent medical treatment.
All women can continue to visit our support groups even after their surgery.
We educate them and thus achieve that they protect their daughters from female genital mutilation.
Where do you get the strength to never give up this difficult fight against the cruel ritual?
The women are so thankful! To express their indescribable gratitude, they embrace me lovingly in their arms and often give me a gentle kiss on my cheek.
This feeling makes me indescribably happy!
All those positive experiences give me the strength every single day not to give up the difficult fight against this cruel ritual and to carry on!
The Desert Flower Foundation and the Desert Flower Center have great teams and it's wonderful that together we can do so much!
Next week: Exclusive insights into the Desert Flower self-help group: How we help - and how you can help!