Episode 4: The mother of invention

Jonaliese reveals a painful truth and shares her story of how she became a blacksmith with a successful business.

“If you are a refugee, be proud of yourself.”

Jonaliese’s journey to safety

Jonaliese’s journey to safety

Jonaliese rests in her living room, in the back of her blacksmith workshop, in Rwamwanja, Uganda.

Jonaliese rests in her living room, in the back of her blacksmith workshop, in Rwamwanja. © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

How did you manage to get to sleep at night when you were lost and alone and trying not to get caught by anyone?

Sleep was not there – it was just a slumber and I worried throughout. I remember getting good sleep when I reached Uganda although I was in deep thoughts. I had very many sleepless nights when I had no more hope of living with people again. These memories – I hate remembering them. I spent very long time living on water, and sometimes stagnant water, but I still lived. Moving in a direction that I even don’t know its end.

Did you know much about these armed groups before they came to your village? Was it something you had thought or worried about before?

We could hear about these armed men but very far away from our village for a long time. They reached us abruptly. But when they reached home, I was not there. I’d gone to fetch water, so I found everything changed at home. When I reached our kraal, (a traditional village) I found most of the cows dead. I continued moving around and found neighbours in a pool of blood, so I started running in fear.

How did you know which direction to travel to find safety?

I ran without direction. I met men that told me to follow them in order to reach other people. I followed them thinking they were helpful, but it was a dangerous and, even worse, they were real rebels. These men they raped me without any sympathy – as young as I was, homeless as I was, miserable as I looked – it was hectic.

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All episode images: © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

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