A war child is a child born as a result of rape in the heat and horrors of war. John Mutombo is described as a war child. His mother was raped by a rebel soldier in the forests of Goma in Congo.
Congo has endured two foreign invasions and protracted civil war since the consequences of Rwanda’s genocide leaked across the border in 1994 with an incursion of more than a million Rwandan Hutu refugees.
Looting bands of armed men have been responsible for mass rape, particularly in the east of the country, which has made life difficult for women who risk into fields to grow food.
In an interview with John Mutombo*, he said he witnessed his extended family members and neighbors butchered to death when rebels stormed their village, moving from house to house in a murder spree that usually lasted for many hours.
The years of conflict has resulted in millions of people fleeing their homes, sometimes to live for in forests. Josephs remaining family returned home to find water sources, health clinics and farms destroyed.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in Congo began in 1998, making it the world’s most lethal conflict since World War II.
John Mutombo and his brother had escaped from Goma in eastern Congo, in search for hope. They embarked on a journey to Morocco where many desperate Africans seek illegal smuggling into Europe. John alone arrived at the shores of Morocco, his brother having died from thirst and exhaustion. Beyond the desert was the Mediterranean Sea, and if he was lucky he would find a fishing boat to smuggle him into Europe where he hoped to get a job, begin a new life, and send some money back home to help his remaining surviving family.
John Mutombo was lucky enough to find a boat to smuggle him into Europe, an experience he described as unspeakable. He has arrived but he has discovered that the brighter days, the greener pastures and the peaceful nights he sought, and hoped for, may never be his to share. Undocumented and illegal, John Mutombo has been marginalized from the social and economic society of his host country. Like dew in the morning sun, his hopes have evaporated. He lives on the streets of Athens, and everyday he is closer to the end of his rope.
Educated and documented immigrants hardly find jobs abroad let alone John Muombo who is neither educated nor documented. John can not seek help officially as he fears repatriation. However, his story, is one of a victim of circumstance, fleeing a violent war only to end up hungry in a calm but cold wintry streets of a foreign country. For John Mutombo the war continues unabated.
* not his real name