Sylvia Acan is a founding member of SEMA and the director and founder of Golden Women Vision in Uganda.

To the eight children under her roof –  all of whom were born to women and girls abducted and held in captivity by the Lord’s Resistance Army – she is a loving mother and adoptive parent. But to the rest of the world, Sylvia Acan is recognised for her activism for peace and justice for survivors of sexual violence. She received the inaugural Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize in 2018 and has spoken at numerous international conferences about survivors’ needs and rights.

No stranger to the ravages of war and displacement, Sylvia has lived through long, dark moments in her life. But she has come through those times and found her voice and hope for the future: 

“I feel there will be change in the world, in each one’s life. There is no condition that will always be permanent. I feel we have a step to take always.”

Sylvia started her organisation, Golden Women Vision in Uganda, ‘under a tree with five survivors’. Today, the organisation supports around 300 survivors through income-generating activities like cake-baking and sewing stuffed toys. In the era of Covid-19, the women have started making liquid soap to support hundreds of households and fight the pandemic.

Find out more about Golden Women Vision in Uganda:

Sylvia’s experience with the SEMA network

From her first contact with the SEMA network in 2018, Sylvia has seen the network grow in strength and confidence:

“The SEMA network is really a home for a survivor like me. I learned about SEMA when I went to get my award in South Korea – I won the Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize. When I met with the Mukwege Foundation there, I realised I was not alone in this fight. I found a family at the Mukwege Foundation. Together with all the survivors, who come from different countries, we built the global network. We are a voice for the voiceless. By coming together and sharing different stories and experiences, it made my stigma and trauma come down.”

Find out more about SEMA

Contact with the network, and the Mukwege Foundation, has also transformed her work: 

“Without the Mukwege Foundation, my message could not be heard. And my engagement with different communities could not be realised. I was having very dark thoughts during my suffering. But after hearing all these stories from survivors, bringing us together, I found a role to play. The SEMA network made me a strong woman. I have a vision now.”

“The Mukwege Foundation is like a home for someone like me. I have found a family.”


Watch Sylvia’s experience with SEMA here

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Stand with Sylvia and other survivors like her. You can help survivors of wartime sexual violence to build a global movement and make quality, holistic care a reality in some of the worst-affected conflict zones in the world today. 

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