Food Aid Helps Congolese Rape Victim Get Her Life Back
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Published on 7 October 2011

Like a lot of abused women, Mwamini has been rejected by her parents.Thanks to WFP food rations, distributed through a food for training programme, the young mother has rebuilt ties with her extended family, and has gained confidence and hope. Copyright: WFP/Fabienne Pompey

It was in the evening, almost at nightfall, the young girl was going home to her grandmother’s as her parents were separated. On the way, four men abducted her.
One of them raped her, while the others watched, after that they told her she was free to go. When she managed to get back to her grandmother’s place a few hours later, in tears, she told her everything.

 

Mwamini was a good pupil. At 16, she completed her fifth year of secondary studies in Bidega, not far from Bukavu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. She had dreams, and ambition—before her life veered. 

It was in the evening, almost at nightfall, the young girl was going home to her grandmother’s as her parents were separated. On the way, four men abducted her.
One of them raped her, while the others watched, after that they told her she was free to go. When she managed to get back to her grandmother’s place a few hours later, in tears, she told her everything.
‘I don’t know why, she didn’t tell anyone else. We didn’t raise the matter again,’ she recalls. Yet pretending nothing had happened couldn’t last for long as her belly started to get bigger. The young girl was pregnant.

Despite her mother’s efforts to change his mind, her father who was supporting her financially stopped paying her school fees. For him, the young woman explains now, providing for a daughter who won’t be able to get a proper marriage was futile.
Left to herself, she found shelter with an uncle. The man was understanding, but could not really help much as he already had 8 children of his own and could not pay for all of them to go to school. So Mwamini helped her aunt in the fields, and raised her young Azima as best as she could. 

At the end of 2010, as her daughter was about to turn four, she heard about counselling for women victims of sexual violence, organized by “Congo Restoration”, an NGO financed by the Congolese Diaspora based in the US. In a small classroom, some 60 women follow literacy classes in Kiswahili, as well as training in tailoring and sewing.

WFP assists these women through the Food-for-training Program. 

‘When I came back to my uncle’s with my 60 kilograms of flour, some vegetables, salt and oil, everybody was delighted,’ she says. Despite the ten kilos she gave to her parents, her father did not want to see her again, however she is adamant that the role played by WFP in this transition period changed her life. For her, receiving and sharing food is a way to get her life and respect back. 

‘When I am done, with my sewing machine I will be able to make clothes for the whole family,’ she explains. Another way to give back to those who helped her.