in the previous pages, HROC-North Kivu has already made life-altering
differences in the lives of participants and communities where it
operates. In the village of Nyamitaba, which is barely accessible
by jeep and yet continues to be a center for on-going violence, HROC
is working in and through the transformative power of peace to help
heal the wounds which continue this deadly cycle of conflict.
on the road of peace, there are also many challenges. In September
2009, the internally displaced person (IDP) camps were unexpectedly
disbanded by the government. The government did not follow any of
the international protocols for the repatriation of IDPs. That is
to say, the dispersion of the camps was not informed, planned, or
voluntary. The international NGOs administrating the IDP camps were
taken by surprise and no support was made available to people returning
to their villages (i.e. people were forced to walk). This has resulted
in HROC-North Kivu not knowing where many past HROC participants
Kivu staff is working to locate past participants so they can continue
to follow up and accompany them on their healing processes. But instances
such as these often mean that participants will face further traumatic
experiences as they return to their homes to perhaps find them destroyed
or occupied by others.
staff has also found that women who are rape survivors feel they
cannot return to their villages because of stigmatization and ostracization
by their families and communities. This means that they must find
ways to survive on their own in Goma or surrounding cities without
the humanitarian assistance provided to them in the camps. Given
women’s low socioeconomic status, gender discrimination in
the workplace, lack of formal education, and the stigmatization of
survivors of rape, these women are made even more vulnerable in their
ways, challenges such as these mean that the work of HROC-North Kivu
is more needed than ever.Without a doubt, the HROC staff and facilitators
are doing their best to meet any new obstacles they come across,
even if it means putting on their boots to walk through the mud and
the bush to reach the villages where HROC participants—old
and new—reside. Their only recommendation to AGLI was to continue
supporting this work so that the program can expand, reach more people,
and provide further training for those who have already participated.
is a 35 year old Hutu woman with 3 children. Her husband divorced
her after he discovered she had been raped. She lived in the Mugunga
IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp until it was dispersed in
I was in the house with my younger siblings and my mom. We were all
raped. Even my mother was raped, and she died as a result.
all in the night. The men were all in the military, or at least they
wore military uniforms. We don’t really know who they were,
but the Interahamwe [FDLR] used to wander through that area at night.
The Interahamwe would mix with the locals and the locals would tell
them where to loot and who to attack.
it happened, we took my mom to her brother. But he had no money for
medical care either and so we took her home. That is where she died.
My dad died a year later.
that, we moved to another territory. I took all of my siblings with
me. But it was insecure and we could not stay there, so we came to
was difficult. My sisters, in desperation, would go out to meet men.
Then they would get married. Things wouldn’t work and then
they would come back to me. Things got bad. They would get jobs at
factories picking through beans, working long hours, and making less
than $1 per day. My brother in desperation joined the army; he was
only 14 years old. Today, we don’t know where he is. One of
my sisters has gotten married in Muaso. The other two have given
birth twice, but they live with me.
still have flashbacks. When one of my sisters gets a flashback, her
eyes will get stuck in one direction. She fears something coming
at her day and night. She can never stay alone or sleep near the
don’t get flashbacks like I used to That has come with time
and the [HROC] teachings.It was at the workshop that I realized I
was not alone. And through that I felt I was able to take the first
step towards forgiveness.
is a 38 year old woman with 6 children. She is Havu.
began when I married a man from a different tribe than me. I was
discriminated against by all of my in-laws, who were Hunde It has
to do with some old story that says the Havus killed the King of
the Hundes Something about a Havu lady who married the King and then
was an accomplice in his death.
I got married in 1988 and that is when the conflict began between
us. They said they would not pay the dowry and they told his family
not to visit us. My husband and I found ourselves very lonely. I
remember when they had to flee because of the ethnic war, I was happy
because they were suffering.
in 2006, my own house was put on fire. Luckily, no one was there,
but we lost everything. Life became very difficult. We looked for
a new house, but the only place we found only had space for two of
our children. So we ended up making a temporary house out of canvas.
We lived like that for three years.
that time my own family had to flee from Sake and came to our house.
Our house was so small and my two sisters with their 9 children,
my mom and two orphaned nephews came to live with us. They squeezed
in like a cup. We only ate once a day. We were never satisfied. Eating
just served to calm the worst of the stomach pains.
like that for 4 months. Life became so tough they decided to go back
before the war was over. But on the way back they had to change directions
because of more problems.
this time, I had lost all hope. I was very bad off. A friend of my
husband’s then introduced me to HROC.
remember most from HROC are the stages of healing. I remember I looked
at the consequences of trauma and I realized they could even lead
you to death. I saw so many of those consequences playing out in
my own life. My blood pressure was up; I stayed in bed all day. So
when we talked about the stages of healing, I said to myself that
I had to listen and follow very closely. When I came home from the
training I felt much calmer. I used to go to church, but I was not
touched like I was in the workshop.
is a 40 year old woman with 4 children. She is Tutsi.
Before 1994, we lived well with our neighbors. After fleeing because of the
war, we were trying to trace information on all the things that we left behind.
My family owned three houses, but we heard that they had all been set ablaze.
My brother went back to check on the houses, but then he didn’t come
back and we heard that he was dead. We never saw his body.
as security was restored again, we went back to start rebuilding
our lives. But then security broke again, and so we fled…again.
This time, the roofing was stolen from the houses we had rebuilt.
back again during the census and we learned who had stolen from us.
I began to feel this hatred grow in me from the bottom of my heart.
the census, we went back to Rwanda where we had fled. But life was
difficult. So when security was re-established once again, we came
back. It was then that I heard about HROC.
I heard the teachings, I went back to Muhato and met with the people
who had destroyed our houses. I began to talk to them. They had been
afraid to come and ask for forgiveness. They would send others, but
were too scared to come themselves. HROC helped me learn to reconcile
things and reach out to them. I also got the courage to put new metal
sheets on the roof. The people who stole from us now rent the houses.