What would you do if you didn’t have food for your four-year-old child? No milk to give him. Not even porridge; nothing to calm your child’s hunger. What if your children were sick and you could not afford to take them to the hospital? What if your husband was a drunkard because of his continuous failure to fulfill his parental duty and was now turning slowly into madness? What if your six children had to watch their dad scream every night once the medication was no longer numbing his madness? What if your boyfriend, who made you pregnant, promised you food and shelter, but instead, you find yourself turned into a prisoner at his mercy? I could go on with heartbreaking stories of what most of us consider our worst nightmares.
But, that’s the life of the women of DuHope. Raised in broken families or orphans rejected by families, marginalised by society, left by husbands and boyfriends. They are women who were doomed to never make it through life; women who found themselves in prostitution not by choice, but to escape hunger.
The mission at DuHope is to “give hope”. We endeavor each day to shine a light in the darkened lives of those women because we believe in them and we believe in the God who can transform lives. The organisation creates a safe and holistic way for women to exit sex work while walking alongside them in faith, hope, love and dignity.
In the past years, these women have courageously decided to make different choices for their lives. As mothers, fighting for the rights of their children before their husbands and being there for their children through storms and fires though they never saw an example from anyone. And most importantly, they are choosing to carry on each day hoping for a better future.
There are many social enterprise businesses and cooperatives in Rwanda working to alleviate poverty. And my question is how can we, as Rwandans, partner with those organisations more? How can we participate in helping our fellow Rwandans and not just wait on external aid? What simple steps of positivity can we leave in the lives of the people we meet every day; seeds that might change their whole lives?
I will not bring us anything new, but simply encourage us to start off the year with more altruistic goals. Be the neighbour who shares food with the poorest woman near you. Notice that her kids are not in school. Offer to buy mutuelle (medical insurance) for her kids. Be the person who will not just close the door to that begging dad. Ask what led him there because not all are bad people.
Or, why not take a step further and partner with the many organisations working to actually create a transformation in the lives of the vulnerable? Or you say, “Oh, I’m not Bill Gates. Can my small contribution make a change?” You and I, together, can make the change we want to happen! Let us count it our responsibility to bring a change in the lives of our compatriots who are suffering! Let us live by the good values like ubugwaneza (kindness) or ubuntu (generosity) that characterise our culture so well.