I was given to a soldier for beers and three goats.

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My name is Rebecca. I’m 32 years old, HIV positive,  after being a victim of sexual rape since October 2015.

I’m the second eldest daugher in my family. My mother and father run a resturant where I help serving our quest.

We often got a customer in our resturant who was a soldier in congolese army. He was fighting the rebel group NALU in Beni and south Irumu territory.  Whenever he came, my mother were getting presents, impressing her to letting him have me.

My mother suggested to my father that it was important for me to get married to the soldier. My father who loved me so much agreed to my mother’s idea of getting married. Even though I didn`t want to, I could’nt resist to my parent decision, because I didn’t know what kind of life I would live in case I refuse my parents wish.

I always felt bad anytime I saw a soldier in front of me. 5 of my friends came over to check on my new relationship with the soldier  and I answered them that only my parents who have authority on my life. And forced me to the relationship.

One of my close and confident friends suggested that I run away and start a new life far from my parent’s home.  This was the tempting idea, but I fearing the unknow. How long would I run away?  For a month, a year, my whole life? I couldn`t decide until the day my parents sent me to the soldier for my new life in the marital cohabitation.

I was given to a soldier for beers, 3 goats and promosed security from soldiers.

My suffering started in North Kivu, in a city by the name of Oicha where my husband and his fellow soldiers  was following the Nalu rebels during 28 days without resting. I could see him only during the night. On his coming back from the battlefield, my husband was always very dirty.

I started convicting myself that I should orientate my life to a military family.

One unfortunate night, second Friday of July, the rebels entered the Congo army camp, where I was living.  It was the worste and most horrible loss of soldiers that Congo has ever known since the beginning of the operation. My husband died and I was left as a widow with two children, a girl named Jolie and a boy named Patrick, three years for the girl and one year and 5 months for the boy and both of them stay with my grandmother now.

I decided to stay widow and single for all the rest of my life due to hard times. I was going through day by day in the community, with my children, I was eating irregularly in the week, often two or three days without.

My late husband had a lot of wives and I could receive calls from everywhere reminding him about rent for some of his other wives, food and clothes fees, he forgot me for all my house needs. After his death, in sensitization campaign about voluntary HIV detection, I went to the test myself. The doctor told me I’m HIV aids positive already.

One year after that tragedy, a sister interested me in her business activities selling used cloths, which were the most preferred because of their low price. Sold in the mining and agriculture area because here they change clothes with food. And after that, we were selling food in Mambasa and Komanda.

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To develop the selling activity, I found out that I needed a more stable and well known sales point in the village of Biakato, at 46 kilometers from Mambasa, and 11 kilometers from Mayuano on Mambasa to beni  road. This had a positive impact on the money flowing and for the transaction changing clothes with food. An unfortunate night, some unidentified men visited me as if they were looking for clothes to be changed with meat, I welcomed them in the house, and they asked me to cook for them because restaurants were empty already, I was now doing everything without knowing what to do because it was already late, everything was quiet outside and nobody could know what was going on in my house. Those four men brutalized me, sent me to the floor and dishonored me. In the morning I woke up and found out they had stolen everything, all my valuable things were taken by these criminal rapists. Since that time, I left the village to escape from the shame and went to Mayuano village where I’m now living, in a 20 dollars per month rented house, eat hardly and am unable to satisfy the need of my two children which need school education for their evolution. I work daily by hand for the neighbor’s compound cleaning. They pay me a small portion of cassava flour, a bottle of oil palm for the supper, I really don’t know what to say about myself to show how much I dream of a life with anti-retro-viro. I always show this situation to many of my friends so that together we can fight to sort out my problems.

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Five months ago GAD (Great Actions for Development) had identified me among the women sensitizers for the sexual violence matter in my village of Mayuano and they have given me a chance to register and pay school fees for my daughter Jolie at Divina Gloria primary school and they are providing everything according to their possibilities.

In the VVS GAD projects, I’d wish that that they help me to go for a training to become a tailor and buy for me all the material to start that job so that I can become free standing and be able to provide to the needs of my two children.

I thank you for your reading.

Yours REBECCA from Mayuano DR Congo

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