I watched as my mother was raped then burnt to death


Alice Kabatesi Ssekamatte is a small woman, a fact emphasised by the short denim skirt and short-sleeved blouse that hugs her chest. From her wide forehead dangles short black curly hair, framing her light-skinned face and falling just short of her prominent eyebrows that rise above the rims of her eye glasses. On Kabatesi, this facial arrangement produces a striking beauty of an unlikely kind.
When she speaks, Kabatesi often pauses to look for the right word and when it does not come easily, she uses a hand gesture instead. English is a language she learnt later in life having grown up in Rwanda, at a time when the country was predominantly French-speaking.
20 years after her loss 
From learning new languages to settling in another country and adopting a new culture, Kabatesi’s story is one of a victim’s persistence and often stubborn resilience to regain her sanity, restore her dignity, make a living and reconstruct what was left of her family after the horrors she suffered in the Rwandan genocide.
Born on June 23, 1984 in the northern Rwanda province of Butare to Munyarugezi Emile and Mukakimenyi Venantie, Kabatesi was nine years old in April 1994 at the start of the Rwanda genocide.
It is estimated that this genocide claimed about 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu lives. These lives that were lost included both Kabatesi’s parents and two of her four siblings.
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