This is the final of three cases studies of participants in the Survivors Fund (SURF) and Foundation Rwanda Youth Camp programme.
Case of B.D. Participant in Youth Camp 2019.
“I grew up seeing my mother and the man I called my father fighting each other over me, but I did not know why. It has taken me a long time to know that he is not my blood father – I knew it in 2018 soon after my secondary schooling. I used to ask my mother why I seemed to be the problem in the family, but instead of answering me back, she only used to shed tears, and she sometimes used to rebuke me.
One day, she told me why she and her husband were always in conflict with each other. She told me that it was because he was not my father, that she was raped by a number of men and impregnated during the Genocide, and that she could not trace back my father. I felt my body being electrocuted, becoming numb, and starting fainting. She then started to cool me, and when I partially recovered, she comforted me, but I felt to despise her. I lived with this psychological wound without anyone to talk to. I felt it was woe to me to have been fathered by an Interahamwe militiaman – who was even unknown. Self-acceptance seemed too impossible for me. I started to develop the problems of sleep deprivation, anxiety, fainting, and when partially recovered, I used to see a number of people around me. I also started losing the taste for life and have attempted suicide numerous times.
I was invited to Youth Camp due to this personal situation. When I reached there, I and my peers were told that we would be given enough space to talk about our psychological problems, and my only concern was how I would be open and talk about my birth background in the open – this scared me. But I was then happy to listen to others talking about their birth background saying that they were also fathered by killers, and one of them became open and called her father an Interahamwe militiaman sentenced for having raped a number of women including her mother. I thought her story is more shameful and stressful than mine because it was nicer for me and my mother not to know the one who raped her and fathered me. I started letting out a sigh and feeling the smell of sweat. Then, I also became open and talked about my birth background, and since then, I have started sleeping, feeling calm and not lonely. In fact, three days seemed less because I wish we would at least spend there a week. Youth Camp has supported me to understand that my mother was not the only rape survivor; I know that my mother and I played no role in what happened to us. I have forgiven her and started loving her more. Whoever she is and whatever she underwent, she is still my mother, also occupying the place of my father whom I have never known. I have been able to have self-acceptance. As a result, I have joined a TVET school to train in hairdressing. I am thankful to Foundation Rwanda for their role in filling the gap left by my father because, if FR was not there, I would not be who I am today.