Justine and Her Daughter Alice

Kayonza, Rwanda

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We went to a church nearby because we thought that it would be safe. In 1959, when our people took refuge in churches, they were not attacked. Our parents thought it would be the same pattern.

We stayed there for two weeks. On April 9th the militias took me and raped me. We were hiding in one room in the church and the militia collected us and took us behind to a banana plantation where they raped me. One took me as a sex object for three days. For three days I was his wife, so to speak, and when I came back after the third day, they went to steal food and property from neighbors. I ran away to come back to the church. When I returned, I found my family dead. I was confused and stranded, but the RPF soldiers found me there and rescued me. All of my family were killed in that church except myself. My father and mother and all my brothers and sisters were killed. About five thousand people had taken refuge there, but less than one hundred were rescued.

At the time I didn’t have many wounds on my body; compared with other people I was okay. I took on the voluntary service of cleaning and washing others, so the hospital here took an interest in me and gave me a job. I stayed okay until I delivered the baby I was carrying. That’s when my health became worse.  I don’t have many problems but my sisters left behind children. They are orphans and only have me to look after them. But me – I am not strong enough or in a position to look after them. Right now we do not have a house. This is a hospital house that we rent. If I could get shelter, I would put all these orphans together and look after them.

-Justine, mother of Alice, 2006

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