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Sylvina with Her Daughter Marianne


You don't know why you stayed alive when all your family members died. There must be a reason.
I cannot really tell you how many men came to rape me. There are very many, I can’t count them. All I saw was 4 months later, I was pregnant. I felt so bad, I tried committing suicide twice after I was pregnant, I kept asking myself how I am going to have a child whose father I don’t know because I cant tell you for sure that I know the father – up till now, I don’t know. But deep in me a voice said you don’t know why you stayed alive when all your family members died. You must have stayed for a reason. So I stopped trying to commit suicide, I gathered courage and said I am going to stay. But the good news is that the kid that I produced, when she was born, she resembled me, she looked like me and that was my source of happiness.

I would say that genocide came in a bad way for my family in particular because we were tortured more than words can say. My parents were beaten, my mother was cut by machetes, and when it comes to me, I live with HIV which is a legacy of genocide.

They raped us, It was really brutal. They came between six and seven, all of them, one after the other in turn, they go, once they are all done they all come back the next day – same again. I don’t have words – I don’t want to think about it again. we begged them, we asked them to kill us. They refused. They kept taking us the roadblocks and making us sit there as they do their killing jobs and after killing, they come to rape us. Even when they were doing all this to us, they knew we hadn’t eaten – no food, no water to drink, they take you during the day, at night, they are dirty, they are smelling, they come with dirty jackets – they just lie on you. Today it’s one bastard smelling, the next day it’s another bastard with a different smell. It’s terrible.

I am the last born in my family. During the course of the genocide I thought that if it ended when I am alive, I will go to the river and throw myself there and commit suicide because I never thought I would live with the experience I have gone through – the only thing that I thought would be to go and throw myself in the river, commit suicide.

I don’t have feelings. Even if I tried to force them I live with a virus (AIDS).
© 2012 Foundation Rwanda, All Rights Reserved - All photographs by Jonathan Torgovnik © Foundation Rwanda