Angola: Women's Access to Demobilization and Reintegration Program Funding Essential

Friday, March 7, 2003
Southern Africa

Refugees International met Teresa at a therapeutic feeding center in Huambo province. She was determined to save the lives of her two young children, whose bodies had swollen from acute malnutrition. She walked a day and a half to reach the feeding center. Teresa lived in areas controlled by UNITA since she was abducted from her home at the age of 12. "If I had said no, they would have killed me." She spent the next few years carrying supplies for the army, cooking and cleaning for the soldiers. "The soldiers would steal food and I would carry it to the next place." At age 17 she married one of the soldiers. "I did not want to be a UNITA wife, but it was obligatory. Life was very bad," Teresa says of her 12 years living in the bush where she bore six children. "We had no salt, clothes, blankets, or soap and no medicines when we were sick. We often had to run from one front line to the next. Sometimes we did not even have homes."

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