Mukasekuru is 49 years and one of the mothers supported by Foundation Rwanda she remarried after the genocide and has 3 children. One of those children and the oldest is Nyampinga 18 years old, she was born as a result of rape committed to her mother during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
When the genocide began her family sought refuge with their Hutu neighbor. The neighbor locked them in the house to protect them from the killers. She was married and had a one-year old son at the time. Some days after, Mukasekuru’s husband left the house to join other Tutsi men who were fighting the killers. He never returned, and Mukasekuru was left there alone with her one year old son.
The next day the family that was hiding her asked her to leave and go join other Tutsis who were hiding in the nearby mountains. In the afternoon that she arrived in the mountains, the killers came and found Mukasekuru and her friends. “There was silence, then the crazy dirty interahamwe jumped at the women like animals. They tore their clothes and pulled their hair, I knew many, they used to visit our house.”
“In front of children they raped and tortured women and girls. It was unbearable to watch girls being raped in front of their fathers. They would look for girls, not older than 14 or 18. The girls cried, holding on to their mothers. As they were taken, pieces of their mother’s clothes remained in their hands. While doing that, the killers would shout at us.”
One day Mukasekuru was pulled in front of the others and ordered to take off her clothes beside her child. She put the baby down next to her as two men proceeded to rape her. She was silent and spent the time looking over at her crying child. When she was left alone, she asked if she could breast-feed the baby. Then the killers told her to hold her baby. They cut her son to death while she held him in her hands. She still bears the scars on her right hand from the machetes used to kill her son. “My neighbor tortured me the most, the one my husband respected as his own brother.”
Mukasekuru’s daughter Nyampinga is one of the students benefiting from Foundation Rwanda educational support. Her daughter born of rape is now 18 years old and in Senior 3. She is a very hard working student and hopes to study Medicine at University so that she can become a doctor.
Five years ago Mukasekuru disclosed to her daughter the circumstances that lead to her birth and since then their relationship has improved. Before she had disclosed the truth, Nyampinga had always asked about her paternal relatives. Now she has a sense of peace in knowing how she was born, and no longer asks. The process of disclosure was made possible with counseling training provided by Kanyarwanda, one of Foundation Rwanda’s partners.
Because of the educational support provided by Foundation Rwanda, Mukasekuru has been able to save money she would have used to buy school materials for her daughter and bought 4 goats. The goats give her and the family financial security, as she can sell one if problems arise.
Foundation Rwanda has helped restore hope in Mukasekuru’s life. She now knows that even though her child was born of rape, she is receiving an education that will enable her to become employed and support her when she’s old. Foundation Rwanda continues to provide education support to more than 800 children born of rape, but wishes to extend its reach as there are many more mothers with children born of rape that need support.
About the Author: Samuel Munderere is the Programme Manager at Survivors Fund (SURF Rwanda) coordinating the work with Foundation Rwanda