Postcards from the Edge
In November of 1996, when the war started in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military of Desire Kabila occupied our territory. Arriving in our neighborhood, they killed my husband because the military wanted him to help construct a bridge in the village, but he refused. He was killed along with another young man who refused to participate.
After my husband's death, I was kicked out of the company house where we were living because the mineral company had no spouse benefits. Because I was homeless and there was growing insecurity in the region, I moved in with my husband's family. I started a small business and resumed my life. For two years, life was good.
In 2000, around at 6 in the morning, five Interahamwe attacked my house. Two of them raped me. Three months later, another group invaded my village again and entered my house and raped me and my daughter. They took my daughter with them.
In December of 2000, I went to the market. The Interahamwe showed up and started shooting. At the end of the shooting spree, they chose people to carry the commodities they had stolen. I was taken. We walked with them deep into the forest to their camp. I only spent two days with them. But during those two days, they raped all the women. They took me and some of the other women back to our villages. Still, I had had no news of my daughter. I continued to live with my grief.
In 2002, the Interahamwe who had occupied our village and surrounding areas moved. There was some calm in my neighborhood. But in August of that year, the Interahamwe returned. We were in church when they came. They were many; each took a woman and instructed them to go home. Once at our houses, they told the husbands to go fetch wood. From there on they began systematically raping the women. The Interahamwe that came to my home decided to settle in. He stayed for one year. During that period, I lived like a prisoner. He raped me when he wanted and how he wanted without ever speaking to me or looking at me in the eyes. I lived this horrendous life until May of 2003, when I escaped with my two children to Bukavu. We walked for one month, only in the daylight.
After some time in Bukavu, my daughter came. She had a child and was pregnant. While things were difficult, being reunited with my daughter gave me some joy, and I began to forget my suffering. In May through June of 2004, another war broke out in Bukavu. Again, I was raped by the military of the rebels who had started the war. Eight of them entered the house. Each of the five women in the house was raped. When they were finished they took everything we had. Afterward, I was so depressed I spent five days without eating.
Now I exist. I simply exist. I want to relive my life, raise my children and make them happy so we can begin to forget all the horrors we have lived and experienced.