DRC profile: Caught in heavy gunfire

© Sarah Elliott

He is 16, tells his story with a very hushed voice and J. is clearly still scared and shocked; probably not yet fully grasping what happened to him two weeks ago.

He and his brother, 10, were in the forest near Rutshuru when the fighting broke out.

"We were caught right in the middle of heavy gunfire. We were really scared and had nowhere to run to. We were literally caught between two groups shooting at each other. Suddenly, there was a heavy blast just next to me. I fell and lost consciousness. When I woke up, my younger brother was screaming. He was fine but was scared about what had happened to me. I felt a really heavy pain on my left arm and looked down to see that it was totally destroyed. My brother ran away."

J. walked out of the forest in the direction of the fighting. He saw some armed men who took him immediately to the Rutshuru hospital.

"When J. arrived at the hospital, he was in really bad shape," explains François, the head of the surgical ward. "He had lost a lot of blood, was unconscious and needed an operation right away. The surgeons tried to save his arm or part of his arm but it wasn't possible. The risk of infection was too high. He also lost a lot of weight."

"When I woke up, I was just scared and sad," said J. "I don't know what will happen now. My dad was killed when I was only a kid, my mum left the family to live with another man. I was supposed to take care of them but don't know how. Now, my sister is taking care of me in the hospital. I don't even know if we can go back home."