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David & Jean Luc  Rwanda

David: To get across the Congo River everything began in Mubutu, when we got to a bridge. That was a very small bridge. You can't image—you've got the bridge, you've got like a million people fighting to get to the bridge, and nobody can see the bridge. No, you can't see it. In your mind the bridge is full of people, but when you get close you see that nobody is walking on the bridge.

Jean-Luc: At the entrance to the bridge there were soldiers with sticks, just hitting people. They said, "You have to have organization! Make small groups!" Because the bridge was so small, if everybody went onto the bridge it was going to collapse.

When I saw the bridge I went back. I was worried—I didn't know where Jean-Luc and Mom were. I was just crying you know. I went back into the people and when I got in the middle there was too much pressure. There was a guy carrying a baby that was newborn—the same day. And I saw the baby was starting to die, and there was too much pressure on me too. So I see the baby start to die—the baby was dying! I just took the guy, and I started to move, "Get out of the way, the baby's going to die." I pushed the guy—I pushed the guy and people started to make room to give us the way. And we moved—we moved—we moved. I pushed the guy—pushed the guy, and we just—we went and we got out.

The thing is, I had to make my way through those people, so I made myself like a security guy. I took a stick and said, "Move! Move! Move!" I had to move through the people. You say, "People, move!" But they can't move because there were so many people—carrying stuff on their heads, everybody standing, people making noise. So you have to start going through peoples' legs. We were getting scared because we could hear bombs.

I saw a guy, a friend of my uncle's who was in the army. He was carrying his family, trying to get his family over the bridge. When we went together to the bridge, a guy came to protect us. When we got in the middle of the bridge, I saw Jean-Luc in the front of the people, and I told the guy, "Hey, Jean-Luc is over there." He got him and Jean-Luc crossed the bridge. After we crossed the bridge, we spent five to ten minutes getting some rest, and then we said, "Ok, we hope Mom and the other people we came with crossed the bridge." We took a walk to the top of a hill, trying to find if anyone had crossed the bridge. When we got to the top, we heard people start to shoot—BANG! BANG! BANG!—around us they were shooting. So we started to run. We ran, ran, ran. At that time when you heard people shooting, the best thing was to run, and think about stuff later. So we ran, and I saw a guy, a guy I knew. I asked him, "Did you see my mom." He said, "Yeah I don't know, somebody started to shoot on the bridge, and we didn't know why, but I think your mom is dead." He said that, and we started to cry—Jean-Luc and me. We cried—ran and cried. We spent three days walking, walking away. We walked like 100 miles from Mubutu to a small town located at 100 kilometers from Kisanghi. We needed to stop to sleep—we hadn't slept those three days. When we got there—the day after—Mom came with our sister and the baby. They said they reached the bridge when the shooting started. My mom held my sister and they jumped in the river.

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