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Two-time rape victim fights for justice

October 18, 2012 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

(CNN) -- Although a massive earthquake destroyed her home and her office in January 2010, Malya Villard-Appolon has been relentless in her efforts to support rape victims in Haiti.

Villard-Appolon is a rape survivor herself. In 2004, she established KOFAVIV, an organization that helps other survivors find safety, medical care and legal aid.

Since the earthquake, she and her group have helped more than 1,400 women.

CNN asked Villard-Appolon for her thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean for KOFAVIV?

Villard-Appolon: It's an opportunity for people to know the situation in Haiti -- for women, especially.

Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. "I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons," Basnet said. See more photos of Pushpa Basnet, who was voted CNN Hero of the Year for 2012. Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. "I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons," Basnet said. See more photos of Pushpa Basnet, who was voted CNN Hero of the Year for 2012.
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
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The top 10 Heroes: In their own words The top 10 Heroes: In their own words

We feel that (this) will allow KOFAVIV to reach out to more women and provide more support. Haiti is a country where many of the women are victims.

For me, this is a huge thing. I was raped in 1992 and in 2003; I survived an attempted rape in 2010. My daughter was raped. And yet in the face of the problems in our country, I gave my entire life for this project. This will enable me to continue to fight, and I hope it brings about a change for my country.

CNN: What was your reaction when you found out that you'd been selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Villard-Appolon: I knew it was something special.

When we found out, all the victims mobilized, and it was a victory for them. This gives encouragement to me and our outreach agents to continue to serve other women and girls who are victims.

More from CNN Heroes: Living in fear "under the tent"

CNN: How will you use the $50,000 award that you receive for being selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Villard-Appolon: We will use a portion of it so we can help the children. We have a lot of children that we are helping in education. (An) organization that was sponsoring a school could no longer pay to keep up the school. We would take the children we are working with already and work on finding a school that they can attend.

The money will give us the opportunity to help the children not lose a full year and get an education. When children don't have an education, it becomes a problem for everyone.

Secondly, (it will) help in hiring security guards, for improving security for those involved with KOFAVIV.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

Villard-Appolon: There is too much violence in Haiti. I want people in the United States to know the work that KOFAVIV is doing to combat corruption. We are fighting for the women and children who, after the earthquake, became victims. We are fighting for justice.

Read the full story on CNN Hero Malya Villard-Appolon:
Seeking justice for Haiti's rape victims

More Q&As from top 10 Heroes:
'A ray of hope' where girls didn't count
A voice for America's caregiving kids
After losing daughter, dad vows to change culture

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