This village, surrounding a small Catholic church, is as far down the red dust road as you can go without entering territory controlled by the exiled perpetrators of Rwanda’s genocide. The rebels often come in civilian clothes to trade in Walungu’s open-air market. At other times they raid the nearby farms for supplies and women. The region is known as “the quarter of rape.”
In the shadow of the church is a facility run by Women for Women, an organization that matches international sponsors to local women in need of help. Listening to one of those women, I heard the story of a suffering nation in a single life.
Lucianne is 24, dressed in a red top and red skirt. She speaks quietly while looking downward, her hands trembling. Her eyes are staring and empty; her lovely mouth never smiles.
In December of 2005, while her husband was away on business, Hutu soldiers broke into her home, tied her arms behind her back, did the same to her sister-in-law, and dragged them into the bush. The two women were marched to their family farm where Lucianne’s brother was also kidnapped. Other families were captured along the way.
“We were taken to a hill, and laid down for rape,” she told me. “They gave a flashlight to my brother to hold while they were raping us. When he tried to resist, they struck him with a gun in the face. ... We were near a stream. When one of them was finished, they washed the blood off us before the next was raped.”