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03/15/2022 Congo (International Christian Concern) – On September 23rd, 2021, Kavira Kitaki Elsie and her husband were kidnapped by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, who laid siege on their village and killed five citizens. At the time, Kavira was five months pregnant. The insurgents forced the young family into the valley forest of Mughalika in Bashu. Kavira recalls the devastation that unfolded as she heard the terrorists take her husband’s life.

“They took my husband away from me, and I heard them killing him,” she said. “He pleaded with them not to kill him and have him as their servant, but they could hear none of it. I lost all emotions and asked them to kill me the same way they killed him. Instead, they started abusing me sexually. I knew they would eventually kill me.”  

Two days later, Kavira summoned all her strength to escape the camp while the fighters were sleeping.

“I was not sure whether my attempt to run away would be successful, but the Lord threw the rebels into a deep sleep to aid me in escape. I walked through the night, and the following day I reached Kasindi with the help of some good Samaritans who found me lost along the Kihoma-Lubhiriha road. In Kasindi, I was taken to a Christian woman who helps orphans. She is called Kavugho.”

Tired, abused, and hopeless, Kavira slowly emerged from the cloud of trauma that had protected her from reality. The full weight of her experience became too much to bear as she grieved the loss of the future she had once imagined.

“My world came down crumbling. I was married young so that I could raise my children while young and help them get an education. My husband was dreaming of a future when Congo would be peaceful, Christianity thriving, and people leaving without fear. We had big plans of farming more and getting enough money to enable us to move to a safer town like Butembo or Goma, but all these aspirations came to an expected end. They killed a man full of potential.”

She added,

“All was lost. I had lost any emotions towards life. I was walking dead. I do not remember well how the doctors were treating me or why I was being given medicines. I used to eat and sleep. I did not talk to anyone.”

The ADF terror group originated in the 1990s in Western Uganda and has since moved the majority of its operations across the border into DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces. An affiliate of ISIS, the group regularly conducts attacks in the Christian-dominated country, frequently killing, kidnapping, and displacing Christians.

Today, Kavira is living as a Christian refugee living in Lubhiria, Eastern DR Congo, with thousands gathered to escape the ongoing rebel attacks. Six months after the day that changed her life forever, she holds her new son, Paluku, and a smile manages to emerge from her face.

“Here comes Paluku Gaetano,” she says. “Your father was killed by the rebels when I was just five months pregnant. They tried their best to destroy you and me, but the Lord made way for me to escape. You remind me about your father, who never lived to see you and whom you will never see. I don’t know what plans God has for us, but He is a faithful God, the father to the fatherless and the husband of the widow.”

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