Postcards from the Edge
The first day we met, he told me that he loved me and wanted to have a family with me. A young man who says he loves you without saying much about his plan for the future is not taken seriously, because it is like the beginning of an adventure that will lead nowhere. But when he told me that he loved me and wanted to create a family with me, I said yes without hesitation. This was the beginning of our engagement.
He would come to my house on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When my father realized that he was serious, he asked him to bring his family to meet our family. In February of 1984 our families met. We got married on a Saturday in June of that year. We stayed in Walungu, where I gave birth to nine children, but only six of them are alive today.
I was a farmer, and I would travel to Bukavu to purchase dried salted fish to sell in Walungu and neighboring villages. My husband would go to Bukavu to purchase soap, petrol, lotion, and imported clothes from Uganda, and he would sell the goods in his small boutique in Kamituga, not far from our village. He would never plan his activities without consulting with me. He was attached to me and respected my opinion. He kept no secrets from me. We were good together. That was until our lives were disrupted.
In July of 2002, around 9 pm, my 17-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl were sleeping in their rooms. My youngest children, my husband and I were sleeping in the principal house when we heard knocks at the door and the voices of men speaking Swahili in a Rwandan accent. My husband said this is certain to be our death. I told my husband there is no other solution but to open the door. If we do not, they will massacre us instead of taking what we have. So I went to open the door and six of them entered. They started in the room where the youngest children were sleeping; they woke them up and took the mattress, the blankets and everything else. When they entered our room they found my husband sitting on the bed already dressed. They pointed the gun to his chest and asked him for money. My husband told them he had nothing. They asked him to choose between his life and the dollar. Since he could not move from where he was, he told them to take the keys from under our mattress and open the armoire next to our bed. They opened it and found $200. They took all of our clothes and materials, but didn't kill us. Afterward, my husband went to Kamituga to get money from the shop to purchase new clothes for the family. We ended 2002 without another incident.
In April of 2003, around 8 o'clock in the evening, we heard knocks at the door, and I went to open it. Four Interahamwe entered the house and looted everything, but did not touch any of us.
May 26, 2003, is a date I will never forget. They entered again by force. We did not have money to give them this time and they were angry. They took my husband and dragged him around the house with a cord. They asked me to lie on the ground in front of my husband and children. The two older kids had already fled to the bushes. I got on the floor as they had requested. Three of them raped me as the fourth one took what we had in the house.