Kenya: Left alone, persecuted, detained
15 April 2009

Weekly food distribution in Nairobi. JRS helps asylum seekers with food and rent. (Peter Balleis SJ/JRS)
My twin brother and all other family members were killed during the genocide while my mother and I fled to Burundi.
Nairobi, 15 April 2009 – I was born in 1983 in Rwanda as the first born in a family of three. My sister drowned when I was eight years old. My father was a politician and my mother was a businesswoman. 

In 1993, when I was 10 years old, my father left the country due to a political controversy, which resulted in threats and intimidation for him. Soon my father let us know that he was in Canada-Ottawa. But for us, who had stayed behind it was a difficult situation and my mother struggled to sustain the family. 

Then, in 1994, the genocide took place and things became almost unbearable for us. My twin brother and all other family members were killed during the genocide while my mother and I fled to Burundi.

Forced to grow up

In Burundi, my mother could not cope anymore and developed mental and psychological difficulties. We tried to contact my father but could not get hold of him. We approached several NGOs but without success. 

Since we did not find any support and the situation forced us to find means to survive my mother took up her selling business again. In 1997, when I was 14 years old, she left for the interior of Burundi to carry out her activities but she never came back. 

Since then I have remained on my own, forced to become an adult and find ways how to sustain myself. In 2002, the man who I believe killed my uncle came to the village where I stayed and attacked me with other people who were dressed in military attire. 

Fleeing to Kenya

This incident forced me to flee to Kenya. It was the only country, which seemed politically stable to me. But then I met the brother of the one who persecuted me in Burundi and others as well as former Rwandese neighbours and my security situation began to deteriorate. 

Two years later, at the end of 2004, JRS started supporting me by providing accommodation in an area I considered safe but the threats continued. In January 2005 I became the victim of what I believe has been a conspiracy. I was accused and convicted of a crime though I was innocent. I then spent three years in prison until the sentence was overturned upon appeal in December 2007.

When I came out of prison, JRS supported me with food and rent. Since I came out of prison, I am hiding because I am still afraid of being persecuted by the same people. I relocated to another area, avoid public places and I find it hard to trust anybody. 

Today it is one of my deepest desires to start a project which helps people who are mentally ill, as they are often the most victimised and vulnerable. If I could get the necessary funding, I would like to assist them with food, medical treatment, and transport.