For decades now the people of East Congo have been at the mercy of armed groups, both foreign and domestic. At the time of our mission in 2013 over 16,000 refugees lived in the Mugunga camp, close to Lake Kivu. The men looked grim, the atmosphere was tense, the sky blurred by grey charcoal smoke. Working conditions were difficult with a bunch of children in my slipstream and too many people taking care for my safety.
When checking my photos that evening, I felt frustrated. So I went back to Mugunga the next day, this time only accompanied by a Caritas Goma driver. It was then I met Juliette and her two small children. Juliette’s story sounded sadly familiar: chased by merciless rebels, her husband killed, her village put to fire.
The resilience and the dignity of refugee women like Juliette impress me time and time again. Therefore, I always portray them with the greatest respect. Which is about the only thing a photographer can do.
These pictures were used in the campaign ‘Hope for Goma’ for Caritas International.