Hiding and feeding fugitives who were bound to die

For two months, she managed to feed the people she was hiding with beans and sweet potatoes from her own land. One day when her crops were sacked, some people she hid gave her money so she could buy food at the market. Sula managed by herself, fearing denunciation if she asked her neighbours for help.

First she hid people in the bedrooms of her house, or under her bed. Then, she used a shelter she had built for her animals, so that in case of any visit, no one would be found. She prepared traditional medicine to heal those who needed it. In the meantime, the Interahamwe1 set up a roadblock on the road to control the traffic and find Tutsi. During the night, Sula stole wood from the roadblocks to make fire. If one of the people she was hiding wanted to find refuge somewhere else, she would go with them. For example, Sula took a woman to her niece’s, and on her way told the Interahamwe that the women was the sister of her neighbor, which was true. This woman is still alive today.

Because she had some means and seemed vulnerable, Sula didn’t draw attention. “They saw my face and my neglected house, and thought I couldn’t hide anybody.”, she says. Yet, after a while, the Interahamwe started suspecting her. With extraordinary poise, Sula managed to push them away several times, braving gunfire and threats. At the beginning, when the Interahamwe arrived, she prepared them food in big quantities. Once they were full, they would leave without even looking in the house. Soon, the militia and the military visits became more and more frequent and threatening.

   1 The Interahamwe is a militia created in 1992 by the MRND, the party of president Juvénal Habyarimana. Interahamwe means “those who fight together” in Kinyarwanda, the Rwandan language. They are responsible for most of the massacres during the genocide in 1994.