Every year on June 20, we pay tribute to the courage, strength and resilience of refugees. World Refugee Day invites all of us to see beyond “refugees” to the people who have responded to war and political violence in very human ways: They risk everything to save their families, they rebuild their lives from scratch, and they contribute to their communities in countless ways. Judith Twala, MA, CVT psychotherapist and trainer in Dadaab, Kenya, shares Sophia’s story (we changed her name to protect her identity).
During the Rwandan Genocide, rape was a weapon used against Tutsi women to strip them of their dignity and identity. Many Hutu women were raped as well, often because they were affiliated with Tutsi men. It was also a form of ethnic cleansing because any pregnancies resulting from rape meant that that baby would take the father’s – the perpetrator’s – ethnicity.
Sophia’s story is difficult to read. It shows how, in an instant, a person’s life is irrevocably changed. But it also exemplifies hope because today, Sophia wants to use her painful experience to protect other women living in refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya. Continue reading