I was born in Bukavu, the fifth of six children: four girls and two boys. My parents separated when I was two years old. According to my mother, my father was a businessman and traveled often. He left the family when my mother was pregnant with me. When I was one year old, my father came to visit and saw me for the first time. The visit was short, but he managed to get my mother pregnant. Nine months later, she gave birth to my younger brother. My mother had a difficult time caring for our family.

Since I was not studying, I decided to assist my mother with her small business. One day in 2003, around 6 a.m., we were on route to the grand market to sell our goods when we were stopped by two armed military men. They encircled us and directed us to the bushes. There, we found more armed military men with around 50 people who had been captured. They asked us to sit down like the rest of the people. One of them came next to me and asked to look at him. I refused to look at him so he started beating me. I started crying. He said, "You are crying? I could kill you and you would not be the first I've killed." He took his bandana and wrapped it around my head so he could easily spot me.

Two of the men took a 45-year-old woman and started raping her. Afterward, they took a group of girls, including me. The one that had wrapped the bandana around my head asked for me. Though I had removed the bandana, he recognized me. He said that I was going to help him carry his stuff. After about 10 kilometers of walking I was so tired that I pretended to be sick. He started walking in front me. I tried to escape, but was not successful. So we walked, just the two of us, until we reached the camp where they were staying. That night, the man took me into his small hut and started taking off his clothes. He asked me to lie on his bed. I resisted, so he ripped off my clothes and raped me. The next day, when I woke up, I saw that we were 19 young women. They instructed us what life was going to be like and what they expected from us. They woke us up every morning at 6 am to wash, cook and clean for them. If you were not working, you were being raped. So it was to your advantage to work. One day, one of the women tried to escape and failed. They shot her right in front of us to demonstrate the consequences for attempting to escape.

I stayed in the camp with the other women. After two months, I was pregnant. Despite that fact, he continued to rape me. I grew so sick they thought I would die, so they allowed me to die at my parents' house. They sent me to Walungu, and the villagers there arranged to transport me to Bukavu. There I went to Panzi Hospital and stayed for a couple of weeks. A few months later, I gave birth to a boy.

Today I live with my mother. My little boy is six months old. I have started studying again because our pastor's wife has offered to pay for my education. I want to focus my energy on my studies and nothing else. My aspiration is to be a nurse. The time I spent as a captive has made me lose all taste for men, so I do not think marriage is in my future.


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