Why does Rwanda wants to kill us from exile: We are mere poor people searching for protection said this Rwanda refugee women in DRC
Bringing to you the story of Nakaneza Prisca (a Rwandan refugee women in North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo), the current chairperson of the Refugee Craft Project.
She is leading a group of 20 women involved in the Refugee women Craft project among them six (6) are Congolese and 14 are Rwandan Refugee Women. They meet twice a week and are now producing things that are needed in the communities. You can know more and support this project through this link here “https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/refugeee-conomic-empowerment-in-drcongo/
Nakazena is just one among the vulnerable Rwandan Refugee Women in eastern DRC who has suffered also the brutality of wars since 1996 up to now when Rwandan Army entered DRC. When there is war she runs from place to another alongside other people. Her questions remain unanswered “Why does Rwanda Army kill Hutu refugees in DRC? Why are Hutus refugees in DRC considered as associated to FDLR fighters? What does Kagame wants so that he can leave free to stay in DRC? Why are we not protected by the United Nations? I’m just here a poor woman, why should Rwandan Army come for me here?
Shopping bags made by these women already on the markets at our offices in Goma where people come and buy them from
Among all these questions when you ask her to tell you what she thinks, the only answer is in Kinyarwanda “Njewe sibizi” which means “me I don’t know” and then tears flows from her eyes”.
This is not her true name, what she is putting on her head is the scuff she made from the project which is helping them here at the office, others are coming to buy these things in order to reduce expenses connected to hair dressing which is expensive.
How she came to DRC
She does not well her real age because she has never been to school, what she recalls is to tell her age through events, and here she remembers that during the genocide in Rwanda she was walking alone and also put her sibling on her back. Through our interactions we imagined she was around 9 or 10 years old in 1994. They were born three people in the family among them 2 girls and one boy, she was the first born and the boy was the last.
A time back before the genocide, her father was picked from home by armed people who she did not know who they were and the father did not come back up to now she does not know what happened to him. The father often refused to join other men in the overnight security patrol and that was the reason why he was taken. She lived in Rwanda with the mother and now on that fateful day of the genocide they moved up to Congo.
My mother came back from the garden and told us to go because there is a war and if we do not go, we should die. I went into the house I collected few things I could go with and then we moved on foot for three days and then we crossed into Goma DRC.
I remember, when we crossed the border and came to Goma we stayed for a week at ISG Goma, where many people died of Cholera and other diseases, my mother and my young sister died of Cholera here in Goma. I did not know even know where they were taken for burial, and I do not know how I survived. Then later on I was taken into Refugee Camp in Mugunga where I stayed with my young brother.
What happened in 1996 around Goma – DRC
In 1996 when the war started, we left the camp and moved towards Virunga National Park, but on the way we met Rwandan soldiers, they opened fire on us and my young brother died, I don’t know how I survived and then we continued the journey in so many parts of this country. During the shooting I felt unconscious, when I woke up I saw the bodies of so many people there, I wondered what to do, I could not afford to cry anymore, with other people who passed by in that area we continued the road.
Later on there was another war again, so we decided to run, on the way we were informed about the place where UNHCR was helping people, we moved there, UNHCR put us in a camp where we stayed for two weeks. One morning we saw UNHCR Lorries and told us to go in those Lorries and took us towards unknown places. After two days we were on the border between DRC and Rwanda, then they took us to Rwanda, I stayed there for 4months as I was looking for ways to come back because I feared I can be killed in Rwanda.
One morning I managed to get money, I boarded a Bus up to Kisenyi and then from there I crossed into Goma, and now I’m living here in Goma. I paid people money and facilitated me to cross, immediately I moved to Ndosho were I had a friend who kept me in her house. I feel happy to live here in DRC than in Rwanda, I don’t know why I am a danger to Rwanda when I’m just here in Congo.
I do not know what happened to other people we went to Rwanda with, but me I fear UNHCR because they can take me to Rwanda and I do not want to go there. I have no problem with the current Rwandan government, but I know it is against Hutus and it is killing Hutus, even here in Congo Paul Kagame is coming to kill us, so what will happen when we go to him in Rwanda. Me, I want to stay here in Congo, just see how I am, I do not even speak Kiswahili, I speak more Kinyarwanda but I want to stay here in Congo, I will go back when Rwanda will be fine.
I still have memories of so many people killed by Kagame’s Soldiers, I have stories of people being killed by Kagame here in DRC, I remember how my brother was shot by these soldiers, and no I cannot go to Rwanda. I don’t know why my brother was killed, what did he do? He was just a young boy,
My life situation here in Congo
Most of my time I used to go to Virunga National Park to collect firewood which I sell here in Goma and get some money in order to survive but currently this is not possible because of the war, I do small things here in Goma mainly to collect and sell stones for those who want to build, through this work I get something to eat and also pay my house rent.
First of all I don’t know what do you mean “ loving a man” for my entire life I have in wars, hiding all the time, seeing dead bodies, sleeping in the bush, running up and down. Here I produced four (4) children among them two boys and two girls but as you can see, I have remained with only this young boy, the others died. One died when we were in the forest hiding and we did not have food, so I could not manage to breastfeed, he just died one morning in my hands, another was sick and because we did not have a health center, she also died, the other daughter was raped by armed groups and when she came back she was very sick, I tried to use herbs to treat her but in vain, she also died. They were all born from four different fathers in difficult conditions and none was born from a health center. I conceived them in different places where we ran to, on the way you get a man and life goes on like that.
How did you come in contact with us?
A friend told me about what you are doing for refugees but I feared and decided not to come, after a year I realized that those who attend your activities were not taken to Rwanda, so that is when I decided also to come and started participating in your weekly refugee briefing meetings.
The need to start a small business
Prisca wants to start a small business that can help her to ensure she gets money to buy food, to pay her house rent, to buy things for her child and respond to her basic needs. She wants to work from morning up to evening and at the same time some moment to interact with other women, and above all support young people in order to be economically independent.
Refugee Craft Project
Me, I knew how to do these things but I did not have money so that I can start, during meetings I realized that other women want to learn these things as they could come to me and tell me to teach them, that is why I proposed you to start this project, now you see it is moving on well and is giving employment to some women now.
It is not about money alone
The mere fact of being here at the office the whole day, is helping some women who could have been facing challenges, this is one way to protect them, may be some could have been raped, you do not imagine what goes through their minds when they are isolated alone at home, but now here they interact with others and life goes on, these women so far have something to do, something which can help them to earn some money, they are here to build connections among themselves, that is what is important for me.
Now I want each women to have starting capital for personal business
As we know each other and now moving forward to work together on this project, I want to see every women here in this group being able to access money for personal business in order to solve her basic family problems.
That is why I humbly request you to support us and together we can help refugees in DRC to leave better.