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Henriette with her daughter, Noemi


When the militias came attacking, they came shouting my name, 'Henriette, Henriette'

I became a mother when I wasn’t ready to be a mother. There is nothing that I live for, there is nothing that can make me happy. Since 1990, my life has been distorted. I am not interested in living but I just live for those two children. For them, somehow I live, but for me, I am not interested in life.

I hated myself. My father had died. My mother had died. My aunty had died. My uncle who was paying my school fees had died. Deep in me I was thinking that my other family members had died, so there was no reason to stay. I just wanted to go and provoke death. I insisted they leave me alone and let me go where I will be seen so they kill me soon and I save myself from the agony.

So they came and took us, those who were 15, 16 years’ they came and took us in the bush near by and for a whole day they raped us. From one to the other, exchanging and switching the whole day until 6 in the evening when they brought us back to the church where we had taken refuge. They killed men first, young men, but whenever they came to us they said, Don't kill them, they will be our ‘wives.’ Don't kill them.”

Each one of us had wounds at various degrees and levels. Some of us had big wounds, others had slight wounds. Mine was big and I couldn’t even walk. While seated there, we heard militias killing people. People making noise, people shouting, we heard them cutting people with machetes. We could hear the noise of machetes in the road. And people were saying forgive us, forgive us. So we got scared but at the same time determined not to move out of the convent. Let it come what may but we will not move out of this compound.

We could see militias killing people at the entrance. There was a young man they hit with stones and clubs until he fell to the ground. When he fell to the ground they cut off his neck with a machete. Then one militia got the head and showed it to us and said we are going to do you like this.

I found my sister in a house, she was pregnant. As I was wondering how to help her, another militia who was staying at that house, raped me and I also became pregnant. That is the end of a long journey.

My sister was raped so much. She was all wounds and she had HIV and never got care, so immediately after giving birth in 1995 she became weak. In 1996 she died. So by the time I realized I was pregnant, my sister was dead.”

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