Through counselling and prayer, Pasikazia Mukasakindi has been able to open up and talk about the horrific experiences she went through during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Born on July 25th 1958 in Nyanza District, she is the first child among five other siblings. She got married in 1980 and had a son. Besides her mother who also survived, her entire family was killed in 1994.
“I had gone to visit my parents when the killings started; I immediately told them that I had to go to save my child and my husband. I didn’t know that fate would leave me feeling dead without actually dying,” Mukasakindi said.
She also narrated how she ran into a gang of genocidaires who took her to an abandoned house and hideously sexually assaulted her.
“I don’t remember how long they raped me but at some point everything went hazy and that is the last I remembered. I think they left me in that house thinking I was dead. I later regained consciousness and I tried to crawl out of the house to escape fearing they would find me again and repeat the traumatic ordeal,” Mukasakindi gravely narrated.
She added that she could not walk and didn’t understand what was going on. By the time the Liberation Army (Rwanda Patriotic Front) found her, she was hugging death.
“They carried me to what seemed like a camp on a stretcher. All I remember is people dressed in white rushing around me. After several days, I felt unbearable pain all over my body and that was when I realised I was stitched,” she recalls
The 54-year-old contracted HIV/AIDS after the gang rape but she only realised she had contracted the virus several years later.
“Before the genocide I weighed 75kgs and was light-skinned but as the years went by my skin colour started to change and I lost weight. At first I thought it was because I still hadn’t come to terms with what happened to me. Later, I went for an HIV/AIDS test, when the results came back and I was positive, I felt bitter mainly because I contracted the virus from someone I didn’t know and I was married,” Mukasakindi explains, with tears heavily streaming down her face.
Mama Lambert, counsellor at Solace Ministries said that Mukasakindi‘s strength to open up and talk about what happened to her in 1994 influenced other widows at Solace Ministries to also talk about their experiences.
“The first time she came here, she would not speak at all; it was like she had given up on life and just wanted to die. She has influenced many women here,” Mama Lambert said.
Mama Lambert also said talking about the horrific things people go through is a powerful motion and also a huge step towards healing.
Mukasakindi remained at Solace Ministries where she got a sponsor. She considers fellow widows and orphans as family.
“I always advise and encourage children here; they have become the daughters and sons I longed for. Most of them have given me hope and the will to live. A lot has changed about me since I came here. I pray most of the time because physical wounds heal and leave scars but emotional wounds take forever to heal, especially without God’s intervention,” Mukasakindi explained.
She said one of the most amazing things was when her sponsor and his fiancé came to visit her.
“I’m basically living a better life now. I’m a farmer; I have a cow and goats. I also cultivate food crops like cassava, sweet potatoes and vegetables. I stay in Kinyinya where I practice subsistence farming on the land that I was given by Remera Sector,” said Mukasakindi.