In the village of Musizi, Rukara cell, Rukara sector in Kayonza district, the market day crowd every Wednesday draws much attention, as people bring in commodities and livestock, as buyers take what fits their choice.
Market stall holders entice every buyer to purchase their products in an attractive manner. A further look around, there is a tailoring shop and outside the same shop Gregoire Hakizimana 67, (not real names) operating a sewing machine also politely welcomes every person approaching him, hoping to find a potential customer.
Although one finds Hakizimana outwardly polite, entering into deep conversation with him reveals the other side of his bitter life story, having been confronted by a complex of inter-linked problems; the Genocide against the Tutsi and HIV/AIDS.
Hakizimana, who was a business man at the time the genocide occurred, will never forget the date of April 8, 1994, when a group of heavily armed soldiers came to his bar and gang raped his Tutsi wife, then a mother of one child. The husband had gone to shop for other items and when he returned back, he was welcomed by the bitter news.
“I found my wife in tears of rage flooding her eyes, when I asked her what had happened, she told me how she was raped at gun -point. The only thing I had to do was to console her after the traumatic incident. What followed was about my wife passing nights in fear and wakefulness, resulting from the horrible scene that occurred to her.
Now a widower, resulting from the genocide, Hakizimana a Hutu, blames it all to his bad uncles who were part of the gang that raped his wife because of baseless hatred for every Tutsi.
“I was so much offended and bitterly disappointed because I did not get infected out of carelessness, but through my wife who was also forced into an act, not out of her willingness, but rather an offensive action meant to humiliate me just because I married a Tutsi.”, said Hakizimana in a bitter mood.
Although his work in tailoring earns him a considerable sum, enough to make him survive, it also couples Hakizimana to point out how infecting his wife intentionally left the family in great agony.
He was frustrated and hurt by the fact that the relatives he had honestly loved (mostly his uncles), had a hand in the raping of his wife because he had disassociated himself from the genocide ideology.
After the 1994 Genocide, Hakizima still lived with his wife and the couple would later have a second child in 2000, who was born infected with HIV, because the mother did not have a chance to go for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT).
The child’s HIV status was discovered when the parents took their son for a test at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, following constant illnesses.
Out of the doctor’s advice, the parents also went for the same test and found out they were all HIV positive. The news was a serious blow to the entire family since concrete actions leading to HIV treatment had not taken strong shape.
It was not long, Hakizimana’s wife passed on, leaving the husband and the child in a vulnerable situation as getting ant-retral viral drugs was not easy. However, they would later enrol for HIV treatment in 2004.
“I can assure you that we take regular treatment procedures and our lives are not vulnerable like before. My son looks healthy and is now in high school (senior 5). I am so glad that he is acquiring auto-mechanic skills. I have done my best to merit the confidence my son shows me,” said Hakizimana confidently
Hakizimana further affirmed that genocide led to many people acquiring HIV. He believes that raping and other acts of sexual assaults committed during Genocide were used as a weapon meant to dehumanise victims.
Being not among those who were being hunted by the killers, Hakizimana said he witnessed many scenes of Tutsi women and girls being raped and killed thereafter.
He commends campaigns against AIDS by the Ministry of health and other stakeholders, so that Rwanda’s full transformation becomes a reality, driven by a generation that gives youth and health to the country.
Being a Christian, Hakizimana put prayers first after losing his beloved wife. He decided not to re-marry but to concentrate on being a bread winner for his son, not infecting other people and his other intention was to take up treatment procedures for viral suppression.
“My dream is to leave my son educated, in a better position to cater for himself when I am dead. However recent revelation by the doctor indicated that his state of viral suppression is in good shape,”
“He makes it a point to take his medication while at school and I have endeavoured to talk to school patrons, to make special consideration, for my son to study well and I am proud he has proved to be bright,” Hakizimana added
Rwanda Biomedical Centre in collaboration with different stakeholders are currently conducting community caravans countrywide to raise awareness on HIV testing, prevention, care and treatment, reinforcing condom distribution, education on condom use and voluntary medical male circumcision.