Before I publish an article, I like to write an introduction. For the past several days, I have struggled to write the introduction for this story… I’m finding it difficult to express into words how this story affected me emotionally.
I was telling my dear friend, Melissa this when she said, ‘CEN refugees are the forgotten people. We have other refugees and Australian indigenous people all asking for help, and they receive it. They get government benefits, medical treatment, education, food and beds to sleep in.’ ‘CEN refugees don’t get any of that because no one cares’.
That brought me back to reality, this isn’t about me and how it affected me – this is about giving CEN refugees a voice, a voice that says ‘Hey world, we are human beings too. Don’t ignore us, for we deserve respect too.’
That is all they are asking from the Western world, they don’t want handouts… they want us to hear their voices. They want the world to know about the inhuman treatment and injustices they still face every day. They want to matter, for the lives to have meaning and purpose just like you and I want our lives to matter.
Is that asking too much from the Western world? No, I don’t think it is. So, why isn’t anyone listening?
Without HOPE there is no life – Amanda Ray
Amani had difficulty telling his story; he became very emotional and agitated at times which brought his stutter back. I therefore have taken the liberty to proof read his story to ensure it flows. I haven’t changed his story, spelling or grammar, as I feel it’s important that people hear his own voice.
This is Amani gut wrenching and heart breaking story…
It’s a very difficult story for me to tell, and I always tell it very reluctantly…so if I stammer here in the beginning a bit, you must excuse me as you can imagine one cannot want to dig it up again but there are occasions that it is important to share and show people how God has lift and led in one’s life.
Some Parts of it may seem too strange to be true, even incomprehensible but a though at very younger age I was, I will tell it as far as I remember…
My father and mother belonged to the same church…father was a pastor and my mother and was a staunch believer in their church…
They loved each other, and nearly all church members really appreciated their hospitality, in the days before the war conflict between Maji–maji rebel group and … against forces of *Wanyamulenge, living in neighbouring mountains…
But father was receiving many of them at home and in the church to share ideas, providing with spiritual counselling.
In 1996, the war broke between maji-maji rebel group and against Wanyamulenge… As the maji-maji was defeated, father was accused of plotting *wabembe and being for Wanyamulenge.
So horrifying at my age, 6 years younger and scary to death… to see four heads of dead men and women Wanyamulenge – killed in the war, hung on machetes.
They were brought to our church where we praying by men who wore in banana leaves on their hips. They had painted their faces with lime and black colours; tied their spears and machetes with red pieces of clothes.
Oh my! I escaped when they started taking off my mother’s other people’s clothes, having them forced sex relationship outside of the church.
Got in a neighbour toilets and ooh how disgust it was to watch a father, my father being forced to rape his own children, all naked, brothers were forced to sleep with mom… I watched it from a toilet hole – my blood ran colder and colder, especially when brothers were trying to resist.
God have mercy! Inhuman acts were perpetrated against human-beings, pieces of tree were being introduced into sexual organs of my female relatives as penalty to persecute them, my heart sunk and hated all the world and cursed the day I was born just in a minute time of watching!
And finally they took all the people put them in a thatched house and they set fire on it. Mother screamed and screamed, father screamed, sisters screamed but there was no way out…
Stayed in toilet until late at night and I was so afraid– too cold.
I was extremely depressed, scared and a big fear caught me to the point that I could pass two nights in a toilet. The smell of the burning bodies of my the parents I loved most and sister and brother and other members of the church made me lose my appetite to eat any food, I wanted to die.
Consciousness come to me when I remembered the last part of the message father preached that evening: “EVEN IN THE WORSE PART OF YOUR LIFE, TRUST YOUR DESIGNER”.
After two days in the toilets, I resolved to walk out in the evening and took the direction to the lake, where, by Grace of Lord, the father of my classmate, who fled without anything to eat for 3 days, went hungry, had come with his canoe that evening, accompanied with 2 women and one man, to dig up the carcasses in his field for the family to eat.
He was a little bit scared with me, he flashed me with his torch, and I said my name in a low voice. And again he asked me, “who are you?” And I said my name and that of my late father. He came to me; he lifted me and led me where his canoe was!
And when we sailed to Ubwari (an isle in the Lake Tanganyika), an unforgettable thing happened, worse than ever. God’s grace at work for me, so that today at this time you are reading me, I could share this story…
A warship leading to fight against Maji-maji in the mountains of Ubwari appeared before us. They thought we were Majimaji, they started shooting and aiming at us and throwing the bombs to us, my God, two women and the man who got me died right there. The man’s dead body fell on me as I lay in the canoe; they thought I was died too. When war ship left to Burundi, people from the seaside came to pick us up. I was completely exhausted… My heart was fainting on a-time-to-time basis.
They resolved to put me on a boat coming to Tanzania, and I came with one of the people who had pity on me. And lived with him. Eating meat was so difficult for me because of the blood that flowed on me in the boat and the smell of my parents.
2001, in the refugee, accepting that I was a living was difficult, and I mostly wanted to spend time alone, mostly sleeping. And what was not okay was that I was treated unfairly by step-brothers, because they thought I was a cursed child to whom all bad things and happenings to me I went through…And I didn’t feel like sharing the way to school with them.
Three years later in 2001, I found a good friend who urged me to start school.
In 2010 got an English and French and Japanese training at World Vision Tanzania vocational skills Centre.
2013 got diploma from Pedagogy Fraternité high school, in Tanzania.
Fraught with poverty and unemployment, which is a normal situation for many youths in the camp; I organized a youth English Club. As most members of the club, really wanted to have different life skills, I invited Mr Kaskil to attend one of my sessions with the English club.
And after our talk I really decided to put my forces together with CEN to help the Community at least with the little we have, regardless, a lot in our centre still leaves much to desire in terms of school equipment and supplies, to improve the education and the refugees’ wellbeing.
Can you imagine a teacher not even being able to show a student a picture of animal they learned?
You give explanation of it, but students murmuring, a picture should explain better the difference between the “antelope” and the “bear”? But anyway, at time we care, at time we don’t care the critical environment.
WE LOVE our COMMUNITY– Our community are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, right. Regardless we lost the biological ones. We are thankful to God for whom we have, and the little we have. He will do the Rest.
If you can donate second hand picture books or educational materials,
then please contact me.
*Banyamulenge is the correct English spelling, as spoken in Swahili. French is Nyamulenge and other cultures/languages used in South Africa it is Wanyamulenge. *wabembe translated into English is Bembe