Faustin and His Mother, Bernadette   

Rusizi, Rwanda

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What I know about the genocide and my mother is that she was raped during the genocide. When I was 13 years old, my mother disclosed to me that I was born as a result of her being raped during the genocide. This made me very depressed, and I isolated myself. It was very difficult for me to overcome the feelings of knowing that I was born as a result of rape, but with time, as I got older I got to understand and received the help of my mother counseling me and advising me about life issues, so it helped me to deal with this fact that I was born as a result of rape. I am also very glad that I received the support to attend school, which gave me more hope and faith in the future.

I remember it when my mother disclosed to me the circumstances of how I was born, it was in the afternoon after we had our lunch, my mother called me to the room, and she said she wanted to talk with me about my father. My mother said that she thought my father had died after the genocide, but he was still alive and is in prison. She told me about how she was raped, and when I heard this, I felt like something was piercing my heart when she said these words, I felt a lot of pain. After she told me this, I told myself that I do not want to identify myself with my father, so I tried to behave very well, and do good things, so people do not think or label what I do as coming from my father.

Whenever there are commemoration events and my father’s name is mentioned as being one of the killers, it feels like something is hitting my heart, but I don't give it too much thought, because I believe that my purpose in life is to help people who were affected by the genocide to rebuild their lives.

I have met my father once. I visited him while he was in prison. I asked my father one question – Why are you in prison? – and whether what I have heard is true. He was ashamed and didn't want to speak with me. He avoided telling me the truth, and there were moments of silence. It is true that my father asked forgiveness from my mother, and he received forgiveness from my mother. I also forgave him because I believe if someone asked for forgiveness they should be forgiven, and if I don't forgive I may not be forgiven also when I need forgiveness, and since I accepted the reality of my life and how I was born I forgave him.

Growing up knowing that I was born as a result of rape affects me, especially when I reflect on myself. I feel sad but I also feel sorry for my mother for the opportunities in life that she has not gotten because of that experience. That denied her many chances in life. My relationship with my mother is very good; I try not to give her hard time, I try to do what she asks me to do. My mother also tries not to do things that make me unhappy or angry with her. I felt and feel loved very much.

Sometimes before going to bed I spend one hour thinking why was I born this way? I ask myself a lot of questions about my life, but this does not influence how I behave, it's a battle of the mind. It’s internal, I just try to live a very careful life. I carry myself around in a way that will draw a difference between by father’s behavior and my behavior.

-Faustin, son of Bernadette, 2018

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