Renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has forced some 250,000 people to flee their homes. Ndayi, who lives in one of the Kibati camps, dreams of a better life. Credit: Oxfam
Ndayi and his family were forced to flee their home under a barrage of bullets

DR Congo: Dreaming of a better life

“It’s by the grace of God that we have not yet been attacked.”
Ndayi

Renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has forced some 250,000 people to flee their homes since August 2008. We are currently increasing our work to reach an additional 100,000 people in more places to the north and west of Goma – more than doubling the number of people we are helping.

But it's not about the numbers, it's about the people. Here is a story of how one displaced person, Ndayi, is struggling for survival and hoping for a better life.

Ndayi lives in one of the Kibati camps with his wife and four young children. They were forced to flee their home village of Rugari in the Rutshuru region under a barrage of bullets over a year ago. Since then they have been living in a tiny tent, with barely enough room for them all inside, struggling to survive on the food rations they are given. Ndayi lost his left hand when he was attacked by soldiers in 1996.

The day Oxfam met with Ndayi, the miserable-looking camp which sits in the oppressive shadow of Nyiragongo  volcano, was swathed in grey clouds and rain. Ndayi and his family were forced to squeeze into their tent to stay dry, with only an old blanket and a couple of rickety roughly made stools to keep them off the bare ground.

Ndayi said that armed men often come into the camp and fire their guns – usually to make clear that there can be no arguing with their demands for what little food or money the occupants might have. Ndayi said his family is given six kilos of flour a month, but when the armed men come asking for their food ration ‘we give it to save our lives.’

“When they come they demand money first and when there’s none to give them, they fire their guns into the air to make us afraid so we give them our food.

“It’s by the grace of God that we have not yet been attacked. But during the night we can never be sure that we’re going to wake up alive.”

With the ration gone, Ndayi’s wife could go to the local vegetable patches which have been tended by the displaced community to harvest whatever is available. But Ndayi doesn’t like his wife to do this as the women are sometimes attacked and raped when they go to the fields. The only other option is for the one-handed Ndayi to travel the five kilometers or so into the town of Goma to try to find work as a porter to earn enough money to buy the family something to eat.

Ndayi told us that only two weeks before a boy was shot in the arm and a girl was killed with a bullet to the head by armed men who were raiding the camp, demanding money and mobile telephones.

His family will never return to their village, Ndayi said. Instead he dreams of a better life in South Kivu, where a friend promised him a plot of land.

By Emma Pearson, Oxfam press officer

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