DRC: The violence that made Cecile a widow and mother


In a single horrific day Cecile’s* life changed forever.

As she tended to her garden in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of men grabbed her, raped her, and left her for dead on the side of the road. That same day, Cecile’s husband was killed.

After a month in the hospital, Cecile was told she was pregnant. Soon, she heard that her attackers wanted to kill her. She had no choice but to leave. She says:

When I learned the men were looking to kill me, I ran away.

Cecile fled through the forest, alone, pregnant, and without food. She walked for two months, heading for Uganda. She says:

I would cut twigs from the trees and eat the leaves.

Cecile, a refugee from the DRC, walking with her baby

Cecile finally arrived in Uganda and was rushed to the hospital, where she gave birth. Cecile is among nearly 340,000 people who have fled from the DRC to Uganda to escape violent conflict. 83 percent of refugees in Uganda are women and children.

Through a CARE-supported programme in Uganda, Cecile now helps other women who’ve survived sexual violence and tells the women not to be ashamed. She says:

I started helping other women, telling them not to be discouraged by what has happened to them.

Cecile, a refugee from the DRC, talking to other women refugees

This work has made Cecile hopeful for what’s to come. Despite everything she has experienced, she says:

I hope that in the future there is a peaceful life for me, a better life. Today, I feel good.

Cecile, a refugee from the DRC, with her baby

*Name has been changed.

Interview and story by Karin Bridger and Adjoa Danso. Video editing by Kate Adelung and Brooks Lee.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.