Postcards from the Edge
1996 was the start of the war in DR Congo. We were living in North Kivu. In the early hours one morning, we heard shootings. It was a confrontation between the military of then-President Mobutu and the military of the Desire Kabila, who later became the President of DR Congo. It was a difficult period for us. We had to seek refuge in the mountains. At the end of the fighting, we went back to our home, but everything had been stolen or damaged.
My husband and I returned to South Kivu, where we are from. My mother-in-law helped us to regain our life.
In 2002, the Interahamwe attacked our neighboring villages. Initially our village was not attacked. But one day in 2003 I was in bed when the Interahamwe shot the door down. They were so many that I could not count them. I was in the house with my husband, children and widowed mother. Some started beating and torturing my husband. The rest beat me and my mother, and then raped us in our little living room. I was raped by five, and my mother by six. All this happened in front of my husband. My husband was beaten so badly that he cried. I imagine that it must have been painful for him to watch me and my mother being raped.
When they had finished, they gathered everything and left. We stayed in our house with nothing but suffering and shame. My husband traveled the next day, despite his injuries. He decided that he could not share the same bed with me or continue to have a marital life with me. I had nothing. I was alone with my mother and the children. Three days later, we moved. The whole village knew what had happened and the shame was too much to handle. We were also afraid they would come back again to rape or kill us. My unemployed uncle in another village provided us with refuge.
Two months later, I learned that I was pregnant as a result of the rape. I gave birth a few months later to a little girl in my uncle's house because I could not afford to go to the hospital. Today, my daughter is five months old. I love her dearly, and I will never tell her or the other kids that she is the child of the Interahamwe. I have had no news of my husband. I want to resume my life again so I can care for my children and my old mother.
Before the war, I had a decent life. I was a farmer and a small merchant. My husband was a member of the National Red Cross and had a small clinic where he treated the local population. We had eight children, and six of them attended schools.
In January of 2002, in the middle of the night, the Interahamwe attacked our village. They entered our houses and terrorized the population. Those that tried to escape were either killed or wounded.