My name is Euphrasie
Through genocide, rape and the loss of two children, Euphrasie never lost hope. Now a successful businesswoman, she has built a brighter future for her family and is teaching her trade to other women - so that they too can transform their lives.
I am married with five children - three girls and two boys. I was the eighth child, out of ten in our family. Rwanda was where I was when the genocide began. I escaped during the genocide and did not return to Rwanda until after it ended.
My parents really loved me very much. I went to school - six years at primary school and four years at secondary school. I had dreamed of becoming a teacher. But when I was 20 I got married and after that I never went back to school again.
It was not my plan to get married, but one day I was walking to school and I passed by two men. One was a friend of the family so I greeted him. The man with him apparently asked him about me and shortly afterwards, excused himself and left the other guy. I didn’t know he was coming to me. He asked me to join him on his walk and because he was a friend of a family friend, I agreed. I didn’t know that I would end up locked up in a room where he forced himself on me, in this way forcing me to be his wife.
Things never went back to normal after that day. I was so unhappy. I couldn’t go to school and I became his wife.
After some months, I became pregnant and I gave birth to a child but she died. A few months later, I became pregnant again, and again, the child died. My son, who is here, is my third child. I was a housewife taking care of my children and my family. I didn’t visit or talk to many people. And my relationship with my husband wasn’t the best. I remember, sometimes, he would come home drunk and start beating me. He would even tell me that I was useless because I didn’t contribute anything to our home. I tried to run some small businesses but as they did not go how I wanted, I stopped.
One day, I heard some women talking about a women’s organisation that was going to teach them some skills. I was interested, so two weeks later I went too, and registered to join Women for Women International’s Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme. I was really very happy meeting other women in my group because I wanted the chance to discuss and share experiences with other women. For me, it was like we were building each other.
You can share your experiences with another woman, she can share her experiences with you, and you feel like you are not suffering alone and there is a way to get out of it.
The training we received was very useful because we would use it to start our discussions.
Among the lessons taught, I was most impressed by the women’s rights sessions because that helped me a lot to be more aware and see how I could have my rights respected at home. My relationship with my husband wasn’t the best and I didn’t always know my rights.
After learning about my rights, I started caring about my rights at home and I really understood that nobody can give you rights—you have to claim them yourself.
My vision is to expand my work. I’m very optimistic about where I came from and where I am now.
My son is in his last year of secondary school, so I plan to enrol him in a private drive-in school so that he can get a job and pay for his schooling himself.
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