25 years on, SEVOTA’s journey of healing, transformation and rebuilding broken lives of victims of sexual violence during Genocide
Written by: Dias Nyesiga
Monday, August 26th, 2019, 11:30
Mary’s life journey is an account of a better life and success that was ushered in first with hopelessness that had shadowed the dreams of the once ambitious girl who was orphaned by 1994 genocide against Tutsis.
Like Mary, Gregoriawas raped at 15 during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis and she got pregnant, she had like others who were traumatised, given up everything in life and the purpose of living was a rope hanged upon her head reminding her of her useless existence.
25 years later, the now joyous looking women are able to share their testimonies of success to others and not crying as it used to be, the story is how SEVOTA saved their lives, gave them a reason to live again.
“ I had for several times thought of killing myself, because I felt life means nothing, my child would always make me cry as remember how I conceived her,” Gregoria said
“First, MedicaMondiale through SEVOTA counselled me and healed from trauma, I accepted my child and loved her and later they gave me goats to help me have income,” she added smilingly.
Mariya who is the President for the four groups in Ngororero sector, Ngororero district set up by SEVOTA and supported by MedicaMondiale for the victims of rape during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi as well as orphans says that MedicaMondiale provided small animals to members of the groups as well as basic necessities including school fees for their children.
“Members have been able to improve their livelihoods; they have incomes to pay for health insurance, built houses and set up group savings ,”she said adding that the groups in 2010 received 3 cows funds from MedicaMondiale with the aim of ensuring that each member gets a cow.
Also in the hot afternoon sun, women are gathered under the shades of maize dryers as they rearrange more maize that is yet to be added on the dryers, it’s their harvest from the marshland in Ngwa cell, Nyanza district.
“When SEVOTA brought us together, we could meet and share our life experiences and cry and go back home, But SEVOTA has supported to start income generating activities and we decided to engage into farming,” said Marita Mukaneza, Mukingo sector Nyanza district.
And in Mukingo Sector women are preparing corn cobs to dry in the sun, enduring the midday hot sun while singing, the story of their success runs through their faces, thanks to MedicaMondiale program that has rescued them from abject poverty.
“Our story is a story that you cannot tell to anyone and believe it, we were traumatized and living in abject poverty, some of us believed themselves to be mad,” Mukaneza said
“When you see how smart and joyful we are now, it’s hard to believe our story, we have transformed a lot,” Mukaneza who now chairs the AbishyizehamweAbiyubaka (building our selves through Unity), SEVOTA’s district forum for Nyanza district said.
The forum that started with 12 women who are victims of rape in the aftermath of 1994 genocide against Tutsis has already born other groups such as MvuraNkuvure (Healing each other) which like other groups has transformed the lives of its members.
Maize drying near the Rutuna Marshland
“We are harvesting our maize from Rutuna marshland and we are expecting over a ton of maize,” Margo, leader of the group said.
Marigo adds that the group started as a counseling group and later grew into income generating when MedicaMondiale through SEVOTA started extending funds to the group.
“Some of us could not buy basic essentials but now we have managed to have our own homes, taken our children to school,” she said adding that the most important thing was SEVOTA counseling that helped members realize our purpose in life.
According to Mukamutari, President of the Kirehe district’s AbiyubakaBahuje Forum (building our selves through togetherness) in Gatore sector, MedicaMondiale’s support has helped the forum transform the lives of its members.
“With our conditions as victims of rape, we could not manage to have basic necessities, some members had children and could not manage to work to have what to feed them, but MedicaMondiale provided all these,” she said
The forum that now has an enterprise of making bags and carpets tells of the MedicaMondiale’s support that has transformed people living on handouts clothing in tatters and no meaning attached to their lives to women that are able to transform their communities, a tale that rings a bell of hope to many.
SEVOTA’s vision that has seen the organisation trek through 25 years of great achievement was born from the visions the founder GodelieveMukasarasi saw in prayers where she saw women in pain and tears and later saw the same women happy and joyful. The organisation was founded in former Commune Taba.