8 March 2008: “Out of the Pan into the Fire”, Experience of a Congolese Refugee Woman

By Stephen Kuteesa, Programmes Assistant, Urban Programme Kampala, JRS Uganda

In this hopeless situation JRS appeared to her as a helping hand and like God's answer to her endless prayers. With the support of JRS she started a tailoring business, a skill she had brought from Congo. She opened a small stall where she sold her clothes and with the money she earned managed to meet the needs of her children. She was able to pay for their food, education, accommodation and medication.

In June 2007, still counting on her progress, Bakola was attacked and raped by six men in front of her children while she was at home, preparing them for school. Finally they hit her almost to death and looted all they could find. This tragic experience left her with deep wounds. A baby she gave birth to afterwards and a pain remaining in her back often bring back the dark memories.

Today, JRS in Kampala provides Bakola with financial support for paying her rent and food. She was referred to the African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) where she now receives specific medication and attends counseling sessions. The support she received helps her cope with the past and regain hope for the future. "I have accepted my last born son and can now see his innocence and God's love when I look into his eyes", she says.

Like Bakola many other women and children flee due to atrocities in their countries of origin only to be confronted with the same experience in the countries of asylum. Many remain without support, their cases not being noticed or attended to.

JRS press release: Women refugees experience gender and racial discrimination