Gloriose Mukamugisha, a 17-year-old living in Nyakyanda, Katabageme, Nyagatare, struggles with abuse from both her mother and step-father.
While growing up, before her mother divorced and married another man, their family had conflicts rising from the fact that her mother was of a different ethnic group from her father.
“My father’s family hated mum. They separated and she got married again. But as kids, she also hated us because we are Tutsi. She didn’t want to stay with us or feed us.”
However, Mukamugisha had to stay with her mother because she didn’t have where else to go.
As we had this interview, she had her baby on her back. Mukamugisha had anger evident on her face; she also looked frustrated and so young to be taking care of another human being. But for young women, though not the best choice, when faced with such trying times, at times they seek solace in relationships that often leave them in even deeper trouble.
When the situation with her mother and step-father worsened, she started seeing someone. And at the age of 16, she got pregnant and had to drop out of school.
“Things got worse at home. Step-dad was emotionally torturing me telling me that if I wanted, I could take more pregnancies and give birth. At some point, I left home and stayed with neighbours but I later had to go back. I had no choice, I had to fend for my child,” she says.
She had to look for jobs in order to support herself and the child, because even though she was staying, she was not entitled to any support as other kids (her mum had with her husband).
By the time she joined the Mvura Nkuvure program, Mukamugisha says she was tired of the loneliness, discrimination and wanted hope for a different life.
“I joined because I wanted to be with others. I was tired of loneliness.”
Mvura Nkuvure is a program that reaches out to genocide survivors and perpetrators in a bid to help them heal from their trauma and foster unity in communities.
Through this space, people are able to speak out and seek/ offer forgiveness.
Mukamugisha, just like most participants, says her life has started to change for the better.
“Even if conflicts are still at home, there is a big difference for me as a person. I used to hate my step-father’s kids; I didn’t want them to even hold my child. But this is changing. Also, I didn’t know how to open up, care for others, this is changing too.”
According to her, she has now learnt how to deal with conflicts at home, with respect to her parents, “At home, we used to quarrel and I would talk back…but now I keep quiet. I am sure all will be well.”