Anne Marie Mukankusi has been living in the United States for over 23 years. She left the country after losing her parents during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
As a single mother living in a foreign country, she has witnessed first-hand the hurdles that come with seeking survival and at the same time raising children without help. This is why she started an initiative ‘Ineza Village’ to support single mothers. With her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in mental health counselling, Mukankusi set out to use her skills and offer financial, emotional and psychological support to these women. She had a chat with Women Today’s Donah Mbabazi.
Tell me more about Ineza Village
Ineza Village Inc is a non-profit organisation that serves refugee families and single mothers with low income. We connect families to community resources, advocate for employment and education services.
What challenges do these women face mostly?
They are so many, financial struggle, loneliness, no time for yourself (my children even follow me to the bathroom). Personally single parenting is the hardest thing in the world even when one is financially stable. The emotion draining alone is worse and the loneliness you feel sometimes. I also realised that people feel sorry for a couple who have more children and don’t get time for themselves, they even have people who offer to babysit for them. But this is rarely done for single parents and that’s what we need, we need someone to say ‘hey I see you and I want to help a little what can I do for you? How can I help you?
Why do you think there are so many cases of single mothers today?
Honestly, I don’t understand why some men can’t take their responsibility. Even if you don’t have plans for marriage, just take responsibility for your children. The problem is not being a single mother, it is spending so much time cleaning the mess of a grown man who would not take responsibility and take care of their children emotionally and financially. How hard is it to take your child and spend time with him or her? We take so much time trying to cover why the dad is not there, why he is not visiting, why he is not calling. The easiest thing would be to tell your children the truth but because we love our children and they are so young, you want to protect them and raise decent human beings who would be kind to others and their society; but all of this is so emotionally draining.
How can this be addressed, and What can be done to have men assume their roles as fathers?
I really can’t answer this question in general. I can only answer this question personally as a Christian, I believe in my heart that if men would return their hearts to God and get healed of the brokenness that some have in their hearts and minds something will shift in their spirits and physically would they will remember that their children are the most important thing in their lives. I truly believe in my heart not loving your children comes from not loving yourself. How can you sleep in the night knowing your children are somewhere out there and you don’t even know them? This is not healthy, God brings order in our lives you can’t truly love God and hate your children or their mother!
What are some of your future plans for this organisation?
When we get enough funds, we will be able assist families with childcare, rental assistance or anything the family needs to help reduce stress raising children alone.
My dream is to see Ineza village become a resource centre for single moms and refugees families in greater Atlanta, Georgia. I also plan to extend this in Rwanda and offer services to single mothers there. My heart is set especially for younger single mothers who got pregnant in schools and then had to drop out. I would love to offer services where they could continue their education because if they can continue, they will be able to better themselves and their children without jumping into relationships with hopes of escaping their current situation, or even run to those relationships because they want to escape the shame they feel.