A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
was in her early teens, and she is now looking after her brothers and sisters as well as her own child. Her father was a petty trader and her mother was a farmer. She does subsistence farming and sometimes sells fruit. She was chased away from her family’s property by her sister and brother. She is learning tailoring as part of the ACORD project.
I lived through the war. It started in 1996, when in 3rd primary. I was living in Muganza Hill. That year, the rebels started political education, and that led to people being displaced. They started killing people. They killed my uncles in front of our house, they abducted my mother, and I had to flee the fighting with the baby of the family on my back. They took her (i.e. her mother) into the forest and tied her up, but she was released the next day.
That day my father came back from Kayanza, where he had been burying my uncles who had been killed by the combatants. The same day, in the evening, the government army arrived on our hill to fight the rebels. The fighting got worse and we left our hill to seek refuge on a neighbouring hill. And the fighting spread there too. My father decided we should seek refuge in Kayanza. He died six months later.
We went back to live in Muganza. We hadn’t experienced peace because the rebels attacked frequently and this was accompanied by stealing and murders. We went back to Rwegura, in this place, and I have been staying here ever since. Even here, the rebels continued to deprive us of all our possessions and to beat us up.
My mother fell sick, and died while my elder sister was a refugee in Tanzania. I looked after my younger brothers and sisters and they grew up. To keep them alive, I went out every day to look for work so that we could have something to eat. If I failed, we would spend whole nights and days without eating. When my elder sister came back from exile, she sold all the family possessions and sent me away. I came back again, and was chased away again by my brother. I no longer live in the family house: I live in a house I rent, although I have no income. Now, some of my younger brothers and sisters get by on their own, but there are some that I’m still taking care of. In order to live, I have to sell avocados or vegetables. If I make any money, we eat, if not, we don’t.
I have one child. One night, soldiers came to our house and they beat us, me and the small children. They said they wanted to know where we kept the gun my father used to use for stealing, and after that they took me outside and raped me. After, I discovered that I was pregnant. That’s how I came to have this child. No- one has come to claim him up till now. Even if the father was a neighbour, having participated in the rape, he wouldn’t dare to own up publicly to fathering this