Before the rebels came, Bernadette’s life was good.
She had nine children. The fields she worked on were fertile. She grew crops and the harvests were plentiful. Her family ate well, and Bernadette made money by selling crops at her local market
10 years ago, the rebels came. In an instant, everything changed.
The rebels took me and others into the bushes. They started killing. They cut people into pieces as if cutting a goat or a chicken. They put the pieces in piles, as if they wanted to sell them.Bernadette
Bernadette was one among many who were captured by the gang of armed rebels who attacked their village.
The rebels tied them all together using mosquito nets so they couldn't escape. They ordered everyone to take off their clothes. Then they were sexually abused. If they cried, they were cut with knives. The captives were ordered to eat the flesh of murdered bodies laid out before them in piles.
Just as the captives were about to eat, government forces entered the area and the rebels fled.
Bernadette and her husband searched for their children, who they'd lost in the chaos. Seven of them were missing. They don’t know what happened to them.
All the while they searched, Bernadette was bleeding from several organs as a result of the sexual abuse she'd suffered.
I went to three different hospitals because of the internal damage. It was a miracle from God because I don’t know how I survived.Bernadette
Three years following the attack, Bernadette decided she needed to move. Living in the village where she'd faced death and witnessed such atrocities was too painful.
In her new home, she lives with her husband, son, daughter, and grandchildren.
Bernadette joined a programme funded by SCIAF. The programme provided people in need with farming tools, seeds, training and livestock. Bernadette was given a goat and pig. Today, she makes a living by breeding pigs and selling the piglets at market.
Bernadette started a small business where she could sell the pig’s offspring and use its manure.
With the savings, she bought a plot to build a house, and managed to pay 1,000 Congolese Francs for medical treatment she needed for injuries to her stomach. Her stomach is now better, but she still suffers from back pain.
The programme has really benefited me. We can eat. The children can study. I have bought the plot and I paid healthcare fees which I couldn’t afford before.Bernadette
Bernadette still faces challenges: she needs to pay rent for her home, and it bothers her that her money is spent on hospital fees instead of building a house for her family.
SCIAF can provide medical assistance to survivors of sexual violence like Bernadette, and we can also provide trauma counselling and legal assistance to women across the DR Congo who are desperate for support. But we need your help.
Please reach out to these women today by donating to our WEE BOX BIG CHANGE Appeal.