Get our newsletter:


Brigitte with her children Emmanuelle, Ambroise, and Rosette


I am suffering now because of no other crime than having been born a Tutsi.

 When genocide started, I was engaged with a fiancée. We were planning marriage. He was killed in the first three days. I saw his body after being killed with a machete. I lost love. After that, insult that was added to injury as I was now being raped by many men that I didn’t love and the result are those children. I never fell in love again, I never enjoyed sex, I never enjoyed being a mother, having children but I have accepted it. That is my situation.

I stayed in that place where the leader of the militia had put guards around me in the cassava plantation. He would only allow me in his house when he wanted sex. After sex, he would throw me out at night. My meal was raw cassava and when I felt thirsty I went to the banana plant and squeezed the stem for water. After that I felt such bitterness within me, I was fed up with life and felt like I needed to die. So I made a decision, to take a risk and run to the local leader to declare that I am still alive and they should kill me like they killed my mother and bury me next to her. Instead, he took me to his house for 15 days raping me night and day.

If you saw me before 1994, and you see me today, you can’t believe I am the same person. I have changed for the worse. I used to be a beautiful girl, I used to be loved. I used to have fun at home. It is now all lost. It is all now a nightmare. I feel I don’t have a bit of interest in life. Life is not interesting.

But now the world does not know this. Even now as I talk to you about it I don’t think you understand it as I want you to understand it.  But I am also happy that at least you will go and tell your people that the girls and women in Rwanda went through untold suffering. Before genocide, we had a very good life. Now after genocide, life is extremely uninteresting. And for things that we had never had a hand in it at all. I never asked my parents to produce me a Tutsi. I also don’t know that they made a choice. But I am suffering now because of not any crime than having been born a Tutsi and I am paying a price for the sins that I never committed.

But most of my friends or people I knew or any other girl or woman that I know was raped, most of them have AIDS. Just imagine a life you are living not being sure of tomorrow, that you could die any time. Not because you went to enjoy, not because you had a lover and you made love and you had fun. But because someone came and brutally forced himself on to you and he leaves you with HIV.

© 2012 Foundation Rwanda, All Rights Reserved - All photographs by Jonathan Torgovnik © Foundation Rwanda