Survivors Speak Out: Participants reflect on RGFL
Reason for the absence of photographs: RGFL does not publish photos of the women in the project and all names have been changed to protect the interests of the women and their families. Permission to do so is usually given on condition that this information is only published outside of Rwanda. Given the nature of the internet we cannot guarantee this stipulation, particularly as the younger generation becomes more and more conversant with computers and computer technology. We are concerned children will discover that their mothers have been identified as rape victims and HIV positive, with the stories of their trauma exposed to the world.
“I have been reborn because I was dying,”
The Gift for Life gave me a new life. It gave me back my humanity. I have no words to describe the situation I was in before I was offered help. I would say that I have been reborn because I was dying and living from day to day.
When I feel desperate, I consult Sister Spéciose [trauma counselor] and she helps me a lot, which enables me to get out of the depression.
May god bless GFL. Before GFL I had no hope and could not accept the state of my life. Now I have security and can work. I can pay my kids school fees and feed them. With GFL’s support I was able to finish my home and put in electricity. I can now solve any problem I face.
With the GFL grant I will expand my business and keep working hard to ensure the future of my children. I want my children to have security when I pass away.
If Gift for Life had not intervened in my life, I would already be dead. I pray to God to bless the contributors because they have made sacrifices for people who were strangers to them, and we’re aware that that’s not an easy thing to do. I cannot find the words to thank our benefactors; they gave us back our lives. Only God can repay our debt towards them.
“I was often in crisis…”
Rwanda Gift for Life brought many things into my life. I was very sickly because I had begun to suffer from opportunistic diseases. I was often in crisis because of my poor living conditions; there were always problems I couldn’t solve and I felt helpless. I started feeling better as soon as I enrolled in the program. I became hopeful again.
I thank the contributors and those who started GFL for their generosity toward strangers. They got us out of a very bad situation and even when the project ends, the result of their work will continue to be seen.
“I was dead and Gift for Life has brought me back to life…”
I learned that I had contracted HIV-AIDS in 2000, but I don’t know who among the many men who raped me gave it to me. Rwanda Gift for Life began to give me some assistance when I wasn’t doing well at all, to the point where I couldn’t walk without a cane. I remember that I couldn’t carry the foodstuff that I had been given. I couldn’t even get on a scale. I lost all my hair. None of my children are sick because I gave birth to them before I became HIV positive.
I no longer feel traumatized because I can talk with the other people who are beneficiaries of GFL. Sister Spéciose is always nearby to console us and boost our spirits. I don’t know how to express the effect that GFL has had on my life; in a few words, I was dead and it has brought me back to life. I would like to add a thank you to the donors to Gift for Life for the precious help they have given us. May God grant them many blessings.
“Sometimes I am so happy I start dancing…”
I was in a very bad place and I had given up on life before Gift for Life. I had tried to commit suicide. I swallowed detergent and made my children take it as well so that we could all die because I saw no way out of my situation. I survived because my neighbors found me and saved me and my children. Before Gift for Life I had nothing. I am very grateful for what GFL has done for me. Sometimes when I am in my house I am so happy I start dancing because of who I have been able to become.
“I no longer regret having survived the genocide.”
The assistance I received from the project greatly improved my life, psychologically and financially as well as in terms of my health. I no longer have traumatic crises because they were linked to my poor living conditions.
I can’t find the words to explain how much Gift for Life has helped me and changed my life. They first came to visit me when I was living in an abandoned army barracks. They helped me rent a house and gave me a monthly stipend. I was able to get medicine and improve my health. Since I was able to regain my health, I was able to make enough money to buy my own house. Now, even if I can’t find enough money to feed myself and my children, I can be happy because I live in my own house and no one can tell me to leave. Only now do I no longer regret having survived the genocide.
With the GFL grant I plan on developing myself by opening a market stall. With the money I plan on ensuring the security of my children. (Triphonie supports five children. Two are hers and three are orphans that she adopted who were living on the street.) I will use the money to pay their school fees up to university.”