Stories of Courage

Stories of Courage

Josephine Dusabimana

Photo: Riccardo Gangale

"My name is Josephine Dusabimana. When the war began, several buses of MRND militiamen appeared. The authorities told Tutsis to gather separately for protection. It was a lie.

Suddenly we heard screams and gunshots as Tutsis were being massacred. Some ran away and the luckiest got into houses of kind people. Others were caught and killed. I saw our neighbor and said, “You are a Tutsi. Go through that banana plantation, and hide in my house.’’

They stayed in our house but things turned very bad and I told my husband, “Let us find another hideaway for these men so they do not get killed in our house; we are also at risk. Let me go to my native village and find a canoe to take them to Congo.” We accompanied them in the night, and they succeeded in fleeing.

As the killings were stepping up, we hid a man and his two daughters in our home. I went to my native village again and my father said, “Last time you took the canoe you did not bring it back. How will you manage?”

I told him, “We will take a neighbor’s canoe. We only need paddles.” My father said, “You will get killed if caught with paddles. Let us cut the paddles in two and hide them in sweet potato leaves.”

When I was bringing the paddles, I met some people who asked me if I was planting sweet potatoes. When I replied yes, they said, “You are lucky to find sweet potato seeds.”

I answered, “I do not know when all this chaos will be over but in the meantime I must keep planting.” The man and his two daughters escaped."