When she was 16, Nadine Musabyimana became a commercial sex worker and spent over a decade in that trade.
She said she used to wander in different parts of the city, including her home area of Kanombe, looking for clients.
“I worked as a sex worker for eleven years and got seven babies from three different men. I thought life as a prostitute was the only option as I was jobless and struggled to survive daily,” said the 30-year-old.
She said life as a sex worker was not easy as they pass through many risks, ranging from having unwanted pregnancies and children from different men, mistreatment, and some hopeless mothers abandon their children so they could be raised by good Samaritans.
“Life was always hard. When you are a sex worker, you are prone to mistreatment by the so-called clients, vulnerable and never happy. I saw all the devils as a sex worker, mothers abandon their newborns at neighbours’ doors hoping they will be picked and raised by good Samaritans,” she added.
However, Musabyimana was lucky. Last year, she met Chantal Nyirakinyana, the wife to a pastor at Christ Gospel Fellowship in Kanombe.
She was looking for sex workers to help them abandon the trade, acquire hands-on skills in tailoring and jewelry.
“Nyirakinyana came and preached to me the gospel. She also told me that I was living a bad life as a sex worker and there were opportunities I should seize and work hard to raise my children. She told me about her plans to help sex workers and I was among the first ones to enroll,” said Musabyimana.
Optimistic of a better future
Musabyimana is among over 50 former commercial sex workers who on Saturday completed a nine-month training course in tailoring and making various ornaments.
“When I started training, I said goodbye to sex work as we trained in tailoring and making ornaments, we also got preachers and I got saved as well,” she said.
“As we complete the training, I am optimistic that life will significantly change,” she said with pride.
“I will use the skills I acquired to generate income, though we are yet to get our own tailoring machines, I am hopeful we will get them soon as we were promised. Or I can work hard to buy it myself, my mind and attitude have changed and I see things differently now,” she noted.
Rose Nyirandimubenshi, another former sex worker said: “I have changed and regained respect unlike before. I used to hate my children as I delivered them without my will, but now I understand my responsibilities as a mother and will work hard to raise and educate them thanks to the skills we have acquired.”
Nyirakinyana, the lady behind the project, said she was happy to have achieved her dream to help sex workers get out of the trade and train them to be self-employed and hopeful for a better future.
“The women had no hope of living a normal life and always wondered how they would survive once they left their profession. We are convinced that they will never go back, rather they will work hard to improve their lives,” she said.
She added that the plan is to work with partners and help them work get their own machines and work in cooperatives to be more productive and get access to the market.
Jacqueline Kamanzi Masabo, the executive secretary of the National Women Council hailed the initiative and committed to advocate for them so that they get the necessary equipments in the near future.
She said the government was keen to help all sex workers to engage in other dignified activities other than those enslaving them.