Postcards from the Edge
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.
The Interahamwe forced our door open. I was in the children's room, checking in on them. My husband was in our room. When my husband heard noise, he immediately went to the living room and introduced himself to distract them. One of them immediately looked around and the other two stayed in the living room with my husband. They asked him to give them money and a girl. My husband said that he did not have either to give them. They said he must give them money if he didn't want to be killed. He gave them $200.
One of the Interahamwe came to the room where I was staying with the children. When he saw me, he took me by the hand and dragged me out of the room and told the others, "I have found a woman." At this point they decided to tie up my husband. They told him to hold the flashlight so he could see how they would rape me. My husband refused to hold the flashlight and said that he would rather die than watch the rape of his wife. They started beating him. He was bleeding and crying out loud. My oldest son came out to see what was happening. When they saw my oldest son, one of the Interahamwe punched my son in the left eye with his gun. (Today, that eye is damaged and he cannot see out of it.) My husband finally held the flashlight. In front of his eyes, three of the Interahamwe raped me successively. When they finished, they collected everything in the house. Close to the early hours of the morning, we heard a whistle outside. It was the commander of the operation, calling for everyone to return. They told me and my husband to transport the materials they had stolen from us. I was granted the right to take my youngest child, who was three months old.
I had many injuries in my genitals. My husband was also injured. But we transported the materials. Halfway through the journey, they wanted to divide into two groups, one taking me, the other my husband. They had a heated discussion over which group I'd go with, since each of them wanted to have me as their wife. The discussion was long, and they could not reach a compromise. So they proposed that I be killed. In the end, the chief of the operation decided that I would become his wife and no one else would have access to me. We continued the journey until we arrived at their camp in the middle of the forest.
There I met many other women who had been kidnapped. They did not want the women to talk together or gather in groups, for fear that we would organize an escape. In the forest of Kahuzi-Biega, where I would stay for three weeks, I remained the wife of this commander. He would rape me whenever and however. One day he asked me to go and wash his clothes. I was with three other women. One of the women told me that the MONUC militaries had arrived at Kalonge, which was not far from where we were. So we abandoned the clothes at the river and fled to Kalonge, where we saw five MONUC vehicles. We approached them and explained our problems. The MONUC took us all the way to Bukavu. There I was helped by the local protestant church, which provided me with a small house. Much to my surprise, my neighbor had fled the village with my children, and they were in Bukavu. I was as elated to see my children as they were to see me.
I am grateful that I am breathing. I want to regain my life so I can care for and educate my children and have a happy life. I still do not have news of my husband. I would like to reunite with him. All that I have lived has been part of my life experience, and I am hopeful that I will put this behind me to start a new life.