Rejected 1994 genocide survivor says SEVOTA ended her woes traced to mothering a child of rape
Written by: Ernest Nyetera & George Kalisa
Thursday, June 6th, 2019, 5:41
Vestine Mukasekuru, 43, says the Solidarity for Blossoming of Widows and Orphans (SEVOTA) saved her from a kind of life defined by loneliness, rejection and trauma which she thought was her destiny.
Mukasekuru adds that before she met Godelieve Mukasarasi, SEVOTA’s Founder, she had believed that every person rejected her, a conviction that kept agonizing memories of rape and her mother killed in cold blood by the Interahamwe militias in 1994 genocide against the Tutsi alive.
After killing her mother, the rape victim and currently mother of four says that she was raped by strangers including a Hutu youth who lived in the neighbourhood she suspects to be the father of her first-born. Twelve years later she went through dark days. She became resigned to a life so bad that she wore a sorrowful face with tear-filled eyes throughout the interview with The Light Magazine.
“They had looted all our belongings and stripped us naked. I was only in shorts with the baby wrapped tightly at my back when we met the Interahamwe militias at Murehe just a few metres away from the school’s football pitch,” recalled Mukasekuru.
Mukasekuru told The Light Magazine that after killing her mother, Uwimana Tamari from her home town Murehe in Rwanda’s Southern district of Kamonyi, Interahamwe pounced on her and raped her. She got pregnant and her fellow Tutsi survivors excommunicated her because she refused to carry out abortion. Later, after the end of genocide, the survivors said her child would hinder healing from the trauma save keeping living memories of torture the Hutu militias inflicted upon them in the 100 days of genocide.
Until 2006 when Mukasekuru met her new found mother, Mukasarasi, she lived in seclusion and loneliness. Both the Hutus and Tutsi isolated her. She survived with two young sisters aged two-and-half years and five.
“My father was killed away from us because when the Interahamwe attacked we ran in different directions,” said Mukasekuru, "they didn’t kill me because they had a plan of raping me as I learned later, and one of them continued abusing me at his own convenience”.
Mukaringuyineza Annonciatta, a Hutu woman had offered to hide her with my two young siblings and was flogged to near death for accommodating them. The perpetuators sliced off part of Mukaringuyineza’s left hand ear during the attack.
How SEVOTA induced a turning point in Mukasekuru’s life
In 2006 Mukasarasi fondly referred to as SEVOTA by beneficiaries of her charity services became her father and mother. She found her living in total isolation and loneliness and different horny men had taken advantage of her vulnerable situation to produce with her children whom they denied parental love and care after dropping her.
“Through continuous sensitization, as a mother she assured me that it was not yet too late to live a meaningful life,” says Mukasekuru.
“She told me that self-esteem and self-respect would only come about if appreciated hard work and depend entirely on the fruits of my work,” she adds.
Mukasekuru is one of hundreds of genocide survivors and their children in Kamonyi District whose lives would induce pity from everyone but without a workable solution.
Some 1994 genocide women survivors and their children in Rukoma Sector, Karongi District during a mobilisation meeting (PHOTO/ Eric Nzabirinda)
Through SEVOTA Mukasekuru appreciated the fact her daughter never had deserved the rejection because she was a result of the social breakdown of the Rwandan society and the bad history Rwanda had experienced. “My family had been wiped out and my distant family had excommunicated me because of the child of rape,” she recalls.
As days went by her daughter’s innate animosity grew into uncontrolled degree and burst into domestic violence.
“When a child became a grown-up she demanded to know her father and had become stronger than me so she would beat me for failing to show her father,” adds Mukasekuru. Nevertheless, life was not to remain the same. A solution was about to happen.
When Mukasekuru enrolled into SEVOTA her life greatly changed. SEVOTA reunited them, and related as mother and daughter as a result of reconciliation efforts their extended family accepted them.
Besides, SEVOTA helped her start a new lease of life through financial support and/or otherwise.
“They gave me pigs and goats and later cows”.
“In addition, SEVOTA gave me 30,000 Rwandan Francs which I used to buy a tree plantation from which I got 200,000 as sales from the trees.
To complement her income from agriculture, Mukasekuru runs a small retail shop near her home which helps her meet day-to-day household needs. She is also grateful to SEVOTA for paying the education of her child.