By. Lisa Armstrong, Essence Magazine
The moon was out, white and full the night the men came. It was one in the morning, still and quiet except for the chirping of the crickets.
Andrela had never felt safe in this large, desolate field she and ten other families now called home. They set up tents only a month after the earthquake cracked and crumbled their homes. Survival hadn’t been easy for the 35-year-old single mother, who slept at the entrance to her tent to protect the eight children – five her own, plus a niece and two nephews who lost their mother to AIDS just days before the earthquake.
It was the sound of someone tripping over a rope that awoke Andrela. Before she knew what was happening, a man had cut a hole in the back of the tent. Soon several of them were inside, their faces hidden under dark ski masks. “They put a gun by my ear,” remembers Andrela (whose last name, like those of the other victims, we are witholding). “I started to scream and they told me if I made any noise, they would kill me. The children sat straight up and the men hit them and made them lie down. They were scared and trembling on the ground.”
One by one, the men raped her. Afterward they made her lie on her stomach and forced her to face away from the children. What came next was even more horrifying: The men raped her daughters, ages 12 and 14, too. Andrela could do nothing but pray. “I was thinking that God should just kill me because there are things a person should never have to experience,” she says now. “First there was the earthquake, and I thought we were all going to die. And then this. It was just too much for me to bear.”
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