Well over 23 years after the Genocide, Kankindi has no distinct place to call home. She has always suffered extreme trauma that never allows her to go back to stay in her home place. Consequently, she has not benefited from any government of Rwanda’s special support which has provided almost all vulnerable Genocide survivors with houses and other basic needs.
Recounting her Genocide ordeal to IGIHE, Kankindi says her father took the entire family to seek refuge at his son-in-law’s home in the neighbourhood when killings started in their area but the man handed them to the hit-men (interahamwe) who killed others but Kankindi, then 20-year old, was rescued by her cousin’s husband who told her to go away so that she does not die in his sight.
She went back to her sister whose husband locked her in the room and started raping her daily for about a week before she managed to escape and left Gisagara for Kamonyi where she had another married sister. She did not know she was impregnated by her sister’s husband until end of month when she did not experience her menstrual cycle.
“When I got here in Kamonyi, I realised that I was pregnant and later produced a daughter. I hated life especially when I saw girls of my age getting married and others completing studies. When my daughter was 6-months old I felt I didn’t want the child, I hated her and I wished I had been killed too in Genocide,” narrates Kankindi and talk ends here as her trauma resurfaces, loses conscious, daughter locks all doors, counsellor comforts her, later takes her to bed and talk shifts to the daughter.
Daughter, Mutoni (not her real name) says her mother usually gets traumatised and runs out on the streets and sometimes disappears from home for some days. “When we notice signs of her trauma, we lock all doors so that she does not go out on the streets,” says Mutoni.
When Gacaca jurisdictions started, Kankindi went back home in Gisagara to testify on what she saw during the Genocide. Her sister’s husband who raped her got jailed and the sister bitterly hated Kankindi, threatening her to have no peace as long as her husband is in prison. Kankindi failed to stay in her home area because of scornful words from neighbours, sister and her children but the environment also triggers her trauma. She decided to stay in Kamonyi where she does not have any property but lives on subsistent agriculture on the farm left by her sister to four children.
Daughter’s school dropout
Kankindi’s daughter, Mutoni, dropped out of school when she was in senior three in 2015 when her school fees support from Solace Ministries, a local charity, was reduced from Rwf70,000 to Rwf40,000 per term. Her mother was unable to top up. She is currently working on the farm and sometimes at construction sites to earn a living.
Mutoni, 22, who has never seen her father (currently serving his sentence), had all along believed her father died in Genocide until she learned of her birth circumstances in 2012 when her mother opened up. She wishes to have their own house and get more professional training in construction so that she can earn a better living when she gets a job upon completion.
“Our hosting family (her cousins) was mistreating us and sent us outside their house. They chased us out of their house but since we had nowhere to go, we settled in their old kitchen with a falling wall and leaking roof. I and my mother started a very hard life without food, no shelter, no clothing, not even a blanket; we persisted until one of the cousins got us back into the main house but we are still facing harassment here,” she says.
“My prayer is for our own house. I am a grown-up girl and work to earn our living. We can live happily away from here. My mother often gets traumatised, she cannot stay nearby her offenders in Gisagara District, and we wish to have a house somewhere else.”
FARG, Sector pledge support
While most Genocide survivors have benefited from Government special schemes which provided them with adequate housing and other basic needs, Kankindi’s case has all along been unknown to officials of local government and the Fund for Neediest Survivors of Genocide (FARG) which promotes social welfare of the survivors.
Christine Nyirandayisabye, Executive Sectretary of Runda Sector in Kamonyi District, says she has been unaware of the case for over eight years in the office but assured she is going to look for Kankindi and help her get on the list of FARG beneficiaries and establish how she can be further helped in accessing support through other government programmes.
Eng. Théophille Ruberangeyo, Director General of FARG, says he is going to follow up the issue and make sure she gets on the list of beneficiaries regardless of where she stays if she has proof of being a Genocide survivor. Kankindi obviously has the proof.
Ruberangeyo says they prefer to build houses for neediest survivors in their home areas where they have other resources like land which helps in farming activities especially because the government usually gives them cows but adds FARG also helps survivors settle where they feel comfortable after investigating the threats in their home areas.
“She is entitled to FARG support. She, first of all, needs counselling to help recover from that trauma. We have a counsellor in every district who is going to help her. Then, we shall provide her with adequate shelter,” he says.
Though the daughter, Mutoni, is not eligible for FARG support because she is not a Genocide survivor, Ruberangeyo promised to do advocacy personally to the Ministry of Local Government so that she gets support to take her back to school.
Every year, FARG builds new houses and renovates existing ones for vulnerable Genocide survivors. This year alone, 369 new houses and renovation of 331 existing ones are expected to be delivered at the budget of Rwf9.5 billion.
The 2014 report indicated that 1,687 households of Genocide survivors had no shelters but 1,483 households have so far got houses while 204 will get theirs in the near future.