Postcards from the Edge
In the meantime, my little 8-year-old boy ran to the village chief, who rounded up all the men in the village. The chief touched my heart and felt that it was still beating. But I had lost a lot of blood. The villagers created a stretcher and took me to the hospital in Walungu in the middle of night. The doctors could not revive me—I was in a coma for two months. I was transferred to Panzi Hospital in August of 2003. My situation improved bit by bit. I heard voices, but I could not talk. From Panzi Hospital, I was again transferred to Kaziba. It was there that I regained conscious in September. I wanted to sit up and massage my legs. Much to my surprise, my left leg was not there. I called for my older sister, who had been watching over me. I asked her how it was possible that my left leg was missing. She said that the doctor often separates the injured leg for treatment and will sew it back. I knew that she was lying to me. At that point, I lost my head.
When the wounds were healed, the doctor gave me a prosthetic leg. In December of 2003, I left the hospital. I felt like I was alone in the world. I did not know where my husband was taken. My children were far from me, with my neighbors back in the village. The pastor took me with him to Bukavu. I could not go back to my village, so I asked the pastor to drop me in this neighborhood known as Chai. I asked people there where to find the closest Pentecostal church. I sat in front of the church looking for help. The pastor of the church came out and asked who I was. I told him my story. Moved by compassion, he let me live in an annex of the church.
Since I had a temporary place to stay, I sent for my children. I asked some people from my village who I'd run into to find my children and help them come to Bukavu. One week after I arrived in Bukavu, they came to join me.
I have had no news of my husband since that day he was taken. I spent over eight months in that little house the pastor had given me. My oldest son is doing little odd jobs here and there. My oldest daughter is selling water in the market, and my eight-year-old boy is selling bags.
The pastor eventually said that we could no longer stay in the little annex in the church. But he rented a little house for us and paid for three months' rent.
I started to sell smoked fish in the market for a neighbor. But in the recent war of May through June of 2004, everything was pillaged and the market was burned. My efforts have been reduced to nothing. Despite this latest fallback, I continue to have hope. My greatest dream is to make sure my children go back to school, particularly the youngest ones. It hurts to see them looking for basic means of survival. I would like to guarantee them a better life.