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Stella with Her Son Claude


I don't think about Rwanda often. I think about my son. He is like a tree without branches.

He took me in a bush, in a banana plantation uphill, and like an animal he mounted me. When he had finished whatever he was doing, he told me to go back to the roadblock. When night came, we slept in the bush. Every day and every night, another man had sex with me forcefully. I had gotten used to it. It was only a surprise if a night passed and no man had raped me.

My son was born on July 7th 1995, a day I’ll never forget. I had wished he would die immediately upon birth. I didn’t have anything to give him or to carry him in. I’m surprised that he didn’t die… he was almost a skeleton because I didn’t have any milk in my breasts. I was raped again and again and now I kept the agony. I wished I hadn’t given birth to the child I was carrying.

I was raped so many times that I can’t remember. The whole 2-3 months during the genocide was a continuous experience of rape. Even when that man, that rapist took me to Congo, he had almost taken me on as his wife but staying with him on a daily basis was a daily rape.

And my problem is that boy, my son, that is the only problem I have. When I think about his life, he is like a tree without branches. I am alone. I don’t have any surviving relative apart from my old mother. He is my life. He is the only life I have. I love him. I like him. He is my only kid. If I did not have him, I don’t know what I would be.

I don’t think about Rwanda often. I think about my son and I ask myself: Suppose I die now, what about his life? SupposeI’m not there because not only will his family will never recognize him… they’ll never like him. I don’t have any surviving relative… the only person is my mother who is very old… I will soon die… what will happen to Claude?

You are requested to tell the world that a genocide happened in Rwanda – that we went through torture like no other. The legacy of genocide is too hard to live with. I struggle to live with all the agony that I go through.

Tell the world that the legacy of genocide can never be removed. People struggle to do it but the world has got a debt. The international community has a debt. They didn’t come to our rescue. And now they are struggling with the results of having ignored us. They should now come to support us and to deal with the legacy of genocide.

I am almost handicapped. My back is not stable. I can’t do anything. The whole of my vaginal part is infected. Doctors have tried to treat it but I have serious sexual transmitted infections. I can’t get healed. The one thing that would make me happy is to have my life as it was originally was. Perhaps then, I am sure that my son would have a future.

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