S02E04 She walked from the DRC to SA to build freedom: A story of hardship, grit & resilience

Posted On: November 16, 2022

Share this episode on:


S02E04 She walked from the DRC to SA to build freedom: A story of hardship, grit & resilience

TRIGGER WARNING: This podcast contains content of a sensitive nature and is not suitable for children. Graphic descriptions of child abuse, sexual violence and drug abuse may be triggering to victims of similar traumas.

In this episode, we bear witness to a story of suffering and survival. From a child slave who was a victim of horrific war crimes to a woman with a warrior mindset, Popina is an incredible example of endurance, overcoming the odds and keeping a dream alive. We were privileged to share her painful life story and challenged by her courage and determination to see our own struggles in a new light.

We discuss:

  • Popina’s village being captured
  • The horrific trauma and sexual torture she endured
  • Her walk from the DRC to South Africa
  • Arriving in South Africa and facing exploitation
  • Starting her new life
  • The mindset of a warrior



Popina Khumanda is a young African woman who survived a nightmarish childhood in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Captured by rebel soldiers at age 5 and her village burned to the ground, Popina endured years of rape and torture before making her escape alongside her sister. As a 10-year-old, she and her sibling walked from the DRC to South Africa in search of freedom. Today, she is a graduate of Nelson Mandela University with a degree in Information Technology, has founded a company that sells high-end hair products, has written her autobiography, Building freedom +243, and plans to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Cape Town.


00:00 – Introducing Popina Khumanda

03:21 – An extract from her book, Building freedom +243

04:16 – The village being captured

06:58 – The reflections of horrific trauma

08:40 – Memory of sexual torture

09:21 – A loss of hope

10:44 – A run towards freedom

12:00 – The beginning of the walk from the DRC to South Africa

13:50 – Renewed hope from Nelson Mandela being freed from prison

14:53 – The bumpy road to South Africa

19:27 – Arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa

27:47 – A new world

33:32 – A welcome to a children’s home

47:43 – The mindset of a warrior

01:01:37 – Popina’s hope for herself

01:02:19 – Q&A from live audience