Ndagano Nakajosi, 50
Refugee from Kitundu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, now living in Burundi.
We fled to escape the Mai Mai and the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) who often attacked our village at night stealing anything of value, money, radios, dishes, even mattresses. They would punish everyone left in the village forcing the men to carry what they had stolen and systematically raping the women. My daughter was raped by eight men, she was 18 at the time and now she is sick. She has a disease because of the rape. We decided to cross the Ruzizi river and bring her to the hospital here in Bujumbura. Now she seems to be better but her skin is not good and her behaviour has changed.
We had spent two weeks sleeping in the bush but my family wanted to go back and sleep in our house. They were tired of going to the bush every night so we decided to stay in the house for one night and that is when the Mai Mai attacked.
After they had raped my wife and my daughter they made me carry the things they had stolen from us. Normally they kill you after they have made you carry their loot so you can’t go back and tell your neighbours where they are. There were two other men from my village carrying things for them. We were beaten by them but I had a chance to escape: a man came at me with a knife but as I was on the ground I saw the knife coming and I lifted my leg to protect my chest and was hit in the leg instead. I pretended I was dying and when they went to eat I crawled away very slowly. When I got home I found my family crying because when they saw me leaving with the Mai Mai they were convinced they were going to kill me.
This was when we decided to cross the Ruzizi (river bordering Burundi). We were helped by Burundian fishermen who took us in their boats and brought us to Vugizo and then we walked to Bujumbura.
The life here is not good at all. We are here in a government transit centre but we are dying of hunger. We should now be going to a camp where we could easily get food but we could spend two months waiting here. I don’t think we will ever go back to Congo, because I don’t see how the Mai Mai could ever disappear from the forest. My only hope is for God to take my children to a place where they can find something to eat. Here they just go around begging for food. When I go to the camp I won’t be able to get a job, I will just stay there like a statue doing nothing.