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Healing is possible: The testimony of a young woman rejected by family

Umwari (name changed) is a 28-year-old woman living in the Agatare Village in the Kibatsi Cell of the Rukira Sector in Ngoma District. This young woman was born to a father who participated in the genocide and a mother who was a victim of it after her mother was raped during the genocide against the Tutsi.

In a conversation with Umwari, she mentioned that these heavy histories, in which she had no part, have caused her a deep wound.

She said, “My mother was assaulted, assaulted by my father, who also continued to kill some people from my mother’s family. Where my father’s family lives still exists, but I never lived there, and I never lived with my mother’s family either. It was a wound for my mother in such a way that seeing me would trigger her trauma because it reminded her of how my father raped her and killed her family members.”

Umwari says that even people from her father’s side when they saw her, would also feel wounded and tell her that she was a child born from a snake [her mother]. It was a life she endured as a child where she would be chased away from her mother’s house and also from her father’s family, leading to a difficult childhood.

Umwari says she went through primary school living with various families, yet she could not stay at any place for at least two years. When she reached secondary school, she started getting help from other neighbors, who then bought her all the necessary school supplies.

After completing lower secondary school, she chose to drop out because studying with her trauma made it hard for her to perform well.

She mentioned that after dropping out, she decided to move to Kigali, but that didn’t work out, so she moved to Kayonza District, where life continued to be very challenging for her. After a long time, she chose to return to her home area, got married, and her husband put her back in school, but he also left her after finding out she was a child whose father was involved in the genocide.

Umwari says that last year, in 2023, while she was in sorrow wondering about the life she would lead, a group from Interpeace came and started training them on healing wounds and forgiveness. This helped her get out of isolation and learn that she could live peacefully with her family.

She said, “We talked, and I shared my wounds with them; they comforted me, supported me, and helped me return to life because, before, I didn’t feel like a healthy person. Now, I have regained my life, learned how to earn money, joined savings and lending groups, found friends, and relatives, whereas before I lived in isolation.”

Umwari mentions that she learned all 15 lessons offered in the Mvura Nkuvure program, and she and her fellow youths came together to start a way of saving small amounts of money to lend to each other, helping them to improve their lives.

She stated that she has now started a business like other Rwandans and that she has forgiven all her family members, even though they haven’t asked for forgiveness.

Straight out of Twitter