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Restoring dignity: One LRA survivor's story

Central African Republic, February 14, 2013

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps

Editor's note: The identity of the young girl in this story has been kept anonymous to ensure her confidentiality and safety.

“In 2010, I was abducted by LRA rebels when they attacked Agoumar. I was 13 at the time. Before being taken, I went to school in my village. I loved to read and write, and I thought that I would become a teacher. And then all of a sudden one day my dream was gone. I was kidnapped by the rebels and I could not go to school or do the things I once loved.

"After I was taken, we walked five days and nights. Once we arrived at the LRA rebels’ camp, I was presented to a man who became my husband. Every night this man raped me and I could not stand it. I spent over two years in the forest. I was unhappy and I thought of my family, my friends, my village, the field I used to work in to help my parents. I had my first child while I was in captivity, born from the encounters with the husband I was forced to marry.

"In 2012, the LRA camp where I was being held captive was attacked, and I fled with my baby in my arms. We walked alone in the forest until after three days I found my way to Djema. The International Red Cross helped me reunite with my family in Agoumar.

Free but haunted

"It was difficult at first. I felt isolated even though I was back in my home. To this day, I’m still fearful of being taken again. At first, everyone in the village was scared of me and they would mock me for having been with the LRA. I felt depressed and I didn’t know what to do, my spirit and dreams had been broken.

"I was referred to the listening center in Rafai by the gender-based violence monitor in my community. She saw how much I was suffering and the pain I underwent due to the mocking of people in my village.

Starting over

"Once I arrived at the center, I was able to talk to a Mercy Corps staff member. They took me and my baby to the local hospital for medical care. Thanks to the support I received from Mercy Corps, I received counseling from the women at the center and I felt like I had regained my own dignity. I had someone I could talk to about the difficult things I experienced, and after a while, I started to feel love and happiness again.

"Through Mercy Corps, I was enrolled in a trade school in Rafai where I am currently learning how to sew and make clothing. I have a new dream now to become a tailor, and I now have hope that I will succeed because of the help I’ve been given. My child is in better health now, too.

"One thing that still makes me sad is that I know there are still many girls like myself in the hands of the LRA, and I can only hope that one day they are given the same chance as me.”

Mercy Corps in the Central African Republic

In the Central African Republic, Mercy Corps works to support more than 33,000 people who have been affected by LRA conflict, including 5,500 who were displaced or victimized by the violence.

Our listening centers help women who have survived gender-based violence access counseling, medical care, legal services, and vocational training to begin rebuilding their lives.

We also develop and strengthen community resources to protect children, teach young people how to heal from trauma and prevent HIV/AIDS, and provide basic essentials to orphans and families who were forced from their homes.

How you can help

Your support helps us bring life-changing healing and protection to women and children in the Central African Republic — and in places of conflict around the world. Donate today ▸