Democratic Republic of Congo, July 2004
Honorene is ten years old. Sitting on the floor of a small shelter for abused women in the northeastern town of Goma, she explains how she has ended up here.
“I was visiting my aunt when fighting broke out. Soldiers broke into her house, waving their guns,” she says. “I ran outside but a soldier found me. And then he raped me and then another one came and did the same. After they left I couldn’t find my aunt…”
“I heard about this place in Goma where a woman would help me, so I went to the port and begged a place on a boat to come and find her. The woman at the center took me for treatment but I wasn’t tested for HIV because the test was too expensive – we needed to buy food for other people living in this house.”
The house Honorene is referring to is a shelter run by ActionAid partner Maode (Mothers’ Organisation for Development), a simple place that consists of five small wooden huts, each housing up to 12 women and their children. Shelter is also provided for 132 orphans. “I didn’t think things would ever get much better. I thought the war would always find me,” Honorene says quietly. “But I feel safer now that I am in this house.”