Yvette and Her Son Isaac

Rusizi, Rwanda

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We were forced into marriage, forced into being mothers, but we accepted our children and loved them. There is nothing bad existing in the world that we did not go through. Pray for us so that we may die a peaceful death. Tell the world that if we die we are leaving behind these children. These children who were born when the world was looking away and never came to our rescue, so the world should take on these children and look after them.

Shortly before my wedding, the genocide started. I carried my youngest brother on my back and moved in the direction of the forest. We were about six girls and the militias were many. On the fourth day they came and found us. They asked how many of us were still virgins; almost all of us were. They wanted virgins on one side and non-virgins on the other. They ordered me to take my brother off my back. They got hold of him, squeezed his ribs, and said they didn’t need to use a machete or a bullet on that one. So they threw him in the forest and as he was crying they ordered us to remove our clothes. They started raping us. The one who started with me left me and went to another one. And the other one came to me. In turns they did that for six hours. We were left there as if we were dead.

After around six months, I thought I was probably pregnant. This is when I started wishing to die, I even thought of committing suicide. But then I feared suicide and felt that I should give birth to that kid and kill it, but when I gave birth he was so beautiful that I developed love immediately. I said I can’t kill him, I am going to love him.

My family thought I had died—it was like seeing a person resurrected. They were happy, extremely happy. My brother, too, didn’t die. He was taken to an orphanage and stayed there until I found him when I came back.

What I’ve gone through has prepared me for anything. One thing that I pray for is that if I am to die, let me die after seeing my son have direction. I want to see my son living a good life. My wish is that he studies and is successful in life, but that is a wish because I can’t make it happen. I have nothing and I don’t see myself facilitating his studies, and the government fund for survivors will not take him on because he is not a survivor.

If God can allow me some time to see him grow I would tell my son two things: (1) to always be careful in this world and (2) to protect himself and not to go into sex at all. But I would add  that he should love people. Because when you love people, you avoid problems; when you hate people, you create problems.

-Yvette, mother of Isaac, 2006

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