Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum

by Friends Women's Association
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum
Helping Girls and Young Women in Bujumbura Slum

1. My name is Desiderate; I got married at 17 in the village. After a few months my husband left me. I was pregnant and I gave birth to my baby when the husband had not yet returned home.

My in-laws started mistreating me and pushed me to leave the house. I headed towards Bujumbura; I didn't know where I was going; I just took the bus. Arrived in Bujumbura I sat down at the edge of the road.

At sunset a woman approached me and proposed me to go to her home. I spent months with her, and she proposed me to marry a man illegally and I accepted. I lived with this man; unfortunately he died after a few months.

 I decided to return to the village and my child fall seriously ill. That is how I learned that I and my child have HIV/AIDS because I continued to breastfeed my child. I understood that my second husband died because of HIV AIDS.

 I returned to Bujumbura. I had a husband. He has just left me with my three children. Now I am alone without any activity I suffer a lot. Thank you for inviting me to this workshop.



2. I spent a year in my marriage without children; that was the reason that my ex-husband mistreated me. He used to come with other girls and had sex in front of me; He forced me to watch them doing sex. When they finished He forced me to wipe their sex and I did it many time; It didn't affect me because I thought every woman had the worst and I didn't tell to anyone.

It came a time when I was very tired, I left that man and got married to someone worse than the first. Apart of polygamy and physical violence which is simple in our community my husband is a robber: if I buy a cloth for myself or a plate, He sells it,  I can't keep aything in my house.

I am a woman who tries to look for the money but He always robs me. Now I have rented a house but I haven't moved yet. I will soon leave him. Thank you for this workshop where I got a chance to talk about myself. Actually, I had a secret: I had planned to kill my husband at night with a little hoe. I can't bear to see him walking around with all the things He's got me endured. Now, I have changed my mind because of this trauma healing workshop.


3. “I was traumatized because I couldn’t have children in life. I married a man and I always had abortions.

When I had an abortion my husband was not even waiting for me to be healed He used to rape me sexually and the cycle of being pregnant and having abortion began as usual;  in 10 years I lived with my husband I had 10 abortions.

He said traumatic words to me because I was not able to give him children. He married another woman. The woman had a child and when He came home he beat me, telling me that I'm worthless.

I was without help even the community pointed the finger at me. I was an unhappy woman who hates herself and who desired death.

At the tenth abortion I decided myself to leave my husband’s house because I wanted to die of grief. I have the pain in my heart of not having children. I am old now and I have no one to help me”.

 We thank you for this rich moment which allows us to say what we have endured in our lives. I will try to do what you told us in this road of healing that we begin.


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I married an orphan husband. He promised me to live happily and He used to say that I am all He has. After 4 year, he started dating other women. I lived in the village and He was in Bujumbura.

One dayI asked him money to buy a cowin order to have manure. He answered me: "I bought one cow, it's a cow with two legs, (she talk about me and dowry) I can't buy another “Then He asked me for the money and I gave it to him. After I found that He had a premature child with another woman and the money was to pay for his hospitalization.

After that he called me and told me to come and live with him in Bujumbura. When I was hesitating, he told me that if I don't com, dangerous things could happen to me and I made the decision to go to live with him here in Bujumbura. It was afterwards that I discovered that this woman wanted to live with my husband by force and that my husband did not want it.

In that house I was victim of psychological violence; my husband gave me the order to prepare and serve food to his wife and my husband at the table while I and my children ate outside. I was preparing meals and serving them but my heart was bleeding.

One day I felt that I could not take it anymore; I told him that if this woman will come back again in my house I will throw hot water on them. He was scared and he made the decision to sleep in the house of his second wife or to come home late.

One day he came home around 2 a.m. and I refused to open until 8 a.m. I wanted everyone to see the bad husband he is. When I opened the door, he took everything in our house and wanted to leave us and I refused, explaining to him that he was not going to run away from his responsibilities. So, He took a rebar and beat me until I fainted. You could even see the scars.

Until now I'm in this situation but God gave me the courage to work to support my children He's there. When he wants, he comes back home; when He doesn't want he doesn't come home.

My name is Judith. In 1993 my family and I took refuge in Rwanda. In 1994 we returned to Burundi, we found our house destroyed and we built a small straw house. We suffered marginalization because we were very poor. They called us “pygmies”. I was 16 years old and I was very touched by this discrimination in my community and I decided to go to the rebellion soldiers.

After war, I was among the demobilized soldiers. I got married to a man and we had 4 children together and then he died.

After his death his family made me suffers the worst; my husband's family took away my 4 children and threw me out because we lived in the family plot. I started drinking a lot of beer to calm myself down.

Now, from morning until night I live in the cabaret; I mean I have become an alcoholic. In this cabaret men use to rape me when they find me drunk. I tried to give up to alcohol but it's stronger than me. Thanks for inviting me to this workshop to have a chance to share my sad story.


My name is Mary. I got married at 16; I was in the refugee camp in Kenya. My husband began dating a girl who was my maid. One day at night He left the house to go to sleep at that girl. This  pushed me to say it loud for help.

When we started mediation with the services in charge of the conflicts in the refugee camps, my husband said to me: “you do what you want but I will not give you my children instead of giving them to you, I will throw them in the river and I too will throw into it also".

I knew that to kill is a simple thing for my husband because he was an ex-army rebel. I have chosen to suffer in this marriage for fear of being killed. He tried many times to kill me using poison, but I thank God he did not succeed.

One day he hit my arm and justice service separated us. I thought I would finally have peace but he corrupted my children.  When I gave to children something to sell, he did everything possible to distract them so that my goods were stolen. Actually, I was a business woman.         `,

I was almost crazy because of trauma. I found that there are times that I am not myself. I could find myself trying to kill my child that I carry in my back. I said to myself that I exceeded the limit; I decided to return to Burundi with my two small children, the other two are still with their father.

I went through several bad things; I have been even homeless, but a woman gave me a small room to live. I was able to start my life. I feel peace because I live far from my husband.


My name is Rose. I live in violence, now there is 20 years ago; I said to myself that I have to be a strong woman in order to protect my children.

After being disappointed by my husband who accused to have sex with his friend, there is no longer peace in our household. I suffered too much violence but I refused to be a victim, when He wants conflict I choose peace.

He uses to tell me that my son is my husband. He is not even afraid to say it in public, “what shame!” Now I sleep on a machete, He always terrorizes me saying that he will kill me one day. He told me:  “I have already killed you, it remains to bury you”.

 I was able to buy a plot and to build a house in Tenga without his support; I asked him to help me make bricks, and he refused; rather we live together in this house, and he wants to kill me.

 When the kids hear us quarreling they come and grab that machete, so that he can’t kill me.

My heart has become hard.  I don't think he will kill me.As you said In JOHARI’s window, there are situation that we must surrender to God Who knows everything.

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Now I have a word in my home. My name is Aisha. I have been here at FWA for 3 years. Before, I was mistreated by my husband. He sometimes told me that I am worthless.

I joined the SHGs and at the end of the year, I showed him the money I saved and my interest.From that moment, he began to support me in saving.Due to savings and credit, now we achieved many things; we have built a house, we have water and electricity in our house and we have bought another plot of land. I'm pregnant and I'm coming very far from here (Gatunguru). But, he encourages me to come to save money.  Before, my husband received money but he wasted it in beer but today see our achievement! We are proud of ourselves! Now I have a word in my family, my husband loves me and we work together."

I was raped at 13 by a boy that I considered as a brother; I was doing some cleaning work in his room as usual and he raped me and I immediately got pregnant. This man gave me drugs to have an abortion and I refused.

When my elder sisters found that I was pregnant, they called for justice and this man was imprisoned. Then his sister gave the money to the judges and He got out of jail. This man's sister convinced me to say that I love this man in order to live together. She lied to me that she is going to take me to Europe and I accepted.

Because of this decision my family hated me, beat me, cursed me and refused me to go near their house.

Arrived in the house of this man, I suffered all forms of violence; he beat me, he raped me, he brought other women into our room, sometimes he threw the food I had prepared on the road in front of our neighbors.

I hated so much that man that I couldn't be able to look it in his face; even to have sex I begged him to use the position where I couldn't see him in his face.

I began a small potato business which helped me to live alone with my two children at the age of 15. I became an independent and beautiful woman. The man envied me and wanted to start life together again. When he was presenting his proposal to me I took a stone and I threw him in his face andthe blood flowed;I said to myself; a man who ruined my youth, for me deserves to be killed. I will never forgive him. Thank you for this workshop where I got an opportunity to cry”

“My husband was hospitalized and we were given an invoice for the amount of 300 000BIF. This amount was very heavy for us, we were not able to pay it and hospital administration imprisoned my husband. The only solution I had was to apply for credit from the FWA’s saving group. They gave me a loan, and I was able to pay the bill with the agreement that my husband will help me pay this debt.

After that, my husband returned to his work but he did not pay this credit. I begged him but he refused. One day I came home and found the house empty; my husband left us with everything which has a value in our house and until now, 5 months ago I don't know where he is.

So I fell into depression: I used to cry every moment, I didn't know where to go. When I thought about this credit, I felt very bad. I wanted death. He left me with our three children “how can I start from zero, whereas I only have a capital of 50,000BIF”.

I thank FWA; this center has a really meaning on empowering and healing women.  It’s like women’s refuge; my saving group understood my problem and gave me another deadline to pay this debt.  This training helped me calm down I understood that I am not alone in this fight against gender based violence.”

“I am a woman who is married by force. My husband was a violent man He destroyed my life in a period of 14 years.

I was going to visit him with my friend. My friend went to the toilet, then he closed the door that time, I knew that my friend sold me. I tried to defend myself but in vain, He locked me in his house for a week and convinced me to stay with him. Covered with shame, I could not even come out and look my mother in her face. Then I decided to stay and live with my husband whom I never loved.

My man was a drug addicted; He used to beat me, he burned all my clothes, He can beat me naked in public. In addition to this, he took a knife and put it under our bed and told me that one day he will kill me. After that, I decided to be separated with him although it was too late (after 14 years). I have always hoped that he will at least help me to raise my three children but in vain. In these 14 years, I got HIV and heart disease because of my husband. I'm depressed. My thoughts are always bad. I have no hope, my husband stole my future.”

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“I have been an unhappy person since my childhood. I didn't bury my father: He left the house as usual but he hasn't returned. My mother died when I was at school, they were hidden me that she died. I had hatred against my sisters and brothers; I spent a month without eating well or sleeping. It was Catholic monks who helped me to be able to sleep.

It was in 1993 during the war and I took refuge in a camp, the soldiers wanted to rape me but a refugee leader hid me in a prison and He helped me to go to Bujumbura because almost all the girls in this camp were pregnant because of the rapes by the soldiers.

In Bujumbura I was in the Rohero quarter where I did not leave the house. There was a boy who wanted to marry me in the village but I had refused. He tried to see me but in vain. He made a conspiracy with one girl who just asked me to visit her and I found myself with the boy in the house.

He raped me and made me his wife by force; I tried to look for the house where I lived in vain because I didn't know where to go. I tried to flee but where could I go? I was completely lost.

It was hard to accept this horror. I didn't want to be his wife and he looked ways to hurt me; he beat me, he brought other women to my house and they used to have sex in front of my eyes. I got pregnant and I calmed down.

When I gave birth, he didn't give me anything to eat while I was still staying at the hospital. He sent someone with transportation fees to go back home. Arriving home I wanted alcohol only to forget my situation.  I was sleeping with alcohol.

I left this man being tired after two years. I wanted to start all over again; I became a woman who loves prayer and I had another boy who loved me very much. We were preparing our wedding but another man ruined everything. He told me: “if you don't marry me I will kill you”.  I thought it was a joke but he killed my fiancé and he told this to me. He married me by force and I was afraid because it was during the war period. He taught me to take drugs, we spent the night at the cabaret, and He used to beat me and insulting me....

Now, I'm alone with my children but I'm not psychologically stable sometimes I don't wash myself. There are dates when I cannot wash me, comb my hair or see if clothing that I am wearing is suitable. I suffer so much in my heart; I no longer have any hope of living.

But really this training relieved me.  I was able to cry and on the third day of the training I was able to wash myself. I ask to continue to help me to heal because it is not easy for me.”

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“My name is Claire, this program has been very beneficial to me and family. My husband is alcoholic, every day he comes home drunk. I have suffered many forms of gender-based violence.

Before coming to this training I was a woman who stays at home every day, I was ashamed to go among the others because in the neighborhood everyone knew my situation and they were pointing finger at me calling me MARUSHWA {sorrow); that made my pain worse because it was easy to support my husband but knowing that everyone knows my situation has become unbearable for me.

I thank FWA with all my heart because if FWA didn't exist I don't know where I would be now. FWA healed me; normal stress and traumatic stress were explained to us and I understood that if I do nothing in my life I will die sooner. I also understood in “the web of healing” that if I manage to be healed my children will also be spared from trauma.

At the end of the training I joined the savings group and I applied for a loan and started working. Until now I was able to save 37,000FBU for me it is like million because I had never had such amount of money without asking my husband or my family.

This program has increased my self-esteem. I felt capable and saw that it is possible to take care of my children financially without begging money.

At the start of the school year, I was able to buy everything I needed for my three children. I am the leader of my saving group. I was able to pay food for my family including my husband; I have stopped counting on my husband. I take him as he does not exist; this gave me peace in my heart.  When I look at myself I'm proud and I have so many plans for the future”.


“My name is Saidatte, I suffered too much in my marriage and I decided to leave my husband after 17 years. Before coming to the training I was so much traumatized and I did not know it. I was able to understand that the violence I suffered had great consequences in my life: I became an irresponsible woman. Alcohol was my best friend; I was even a street beggar. I started to sell cooked corn. But I could not prepare them because of the alcohol.

I thank the one who invited me because after training I was able to change because she remained close to me advising me. Now, you also see that I am a woman like others ; I laugh, I wash my clothes I do a small business which makes us live me and my children. In my head I feel peace and I am among the other women in the savings group. Being with others helps me a lot because I feel like I have value too”.

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Organization Information

Friends Women's Association

Location: Bujumbura - Burundi
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Bujumbura , Burundi
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