Posts tagged Bukavu
Posts tagged Bukavu
Faraja is 22 years old. She is petite with haunting dark eyes and a quiet demeanor. She speaks softly so I have to strain to hear her. Looking at her, she appears to me to be somewhat timid. I could almost imagine that she is another victim of the conflict in Congo. But when she speaks, I understand why she is here. “I have always wanted to be a journalist. Even as a young girl, I would steal my father’s radio to listen to the news. He would punish me but it was worth it.”
We know of the rapes and the horrible acts of sexual violence against the women and children here in the Congo, but knowing of it is one thing – to bear witness to the aftermath is quite another. Even though we are at the end of this part of our journey together, I understand that we are here not only to help and to offer comfort and solace, but to bear witness to these crimes.
Anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I am not often at a loss for words. But this week, having sat face to face with more than 100 boys, aged 8-18, who had been liberated from various Congolese militias within the past 90 days, and indeed, I am speechless. “I was on my way home from school when the Mai Mai fighters jumped out of the bushes, grabbed me and carried me deep into the forest” reported one 10 year old boy. He was 8 when he was abducted, given a uniform and a gun, and forced to kill for the Mai Mai.
It’s 5am in Bukavu and the sun is just starting to rise over Lake Kivu. There it is again, that body of water stretching far into the distance, sitting quietly. Today is our last day in Bukavu and tomorrow we take the fast boat back to Goma where we will cross the border back into Rwanda to spend a few more days. I woke up this morning with lots of thoughts spinning around. There has been a lot to process over the past week and a half, but it will take time. It has been an emotional experience. It is so hard to describe the situation here. It is so huge. There are millions of pieces making up a much larger picture.
We’ve entered Goma Prison, gone on site visits to programs in villages outside the city, interviewed a former child soldier and a young woman who was a victim of sexual violence when her village was attacked, taken the fast boat to Bukavu, done site visits at 3 different villages in the hills surrounding this city on the southern end of Lake Kivu, visited the General Hospital and seen 2 different programs within the city confines. It’s exhausting and heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. Take a few minutes to read some of the posts here that further describe where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. Every one of them is elegantly written and deeply touching. This is one amazing JWW team…