Mothers evicted from Tanzania recount ordeal

Tears rolled down dozens of Rwandan women who were recently evicted from Tanzania, as they recounted their forceful separation from their children.
Some of the women who left their children in Tanzania.    The New Times/Stephen Rwembeho.
Some of the women who left their children in Tanzania. The New Times/Stephen Rwembeho.

Tears rolled down dozens of Rwandan women who were recently evicted from Tanzania, as they recounted their forceful separation from their children.

It was an emotional moment as onlookers in Kirehe District listened to the haunting tales of the women at the weekend.

A couple of women said the Tanzanian authorities, in what they termed as ‘unprecedented crushing of family ties’ forced women married to Tanzanians to leave the country without their children.

“The authorities claimed children and husbands were Tanzanians but not the women,” said a woman who identified herself only as Amina, a 35-year-old mother who left behind four children including a three-year-old daughter.

Antoinette Mukandekezi, 45, who left behind six children said she had no hopes for any more meaningful life.

“My family hopes are completely shattered...I left all children in Tanzania. Even my husband agreed that I leave the country claiming I would cause him trouble. What surprised me most was that I was to leave my children behind..they are citizens and I am not. I am now in a state of hopelessness as if I never gave birth,” she said.

Another woman identified as Amina Sarah, 32, said that she managed to escape with two children leaving two others in Biharamuro, Tanzania.

Psychological consequences

“I am nervous and scared...will I be able to see my children again? It all leaves me in another world” she said. “I am one of the few lucky women, I escaped with a baby of one and half years. I am also pregnant and though we don’t count chickens before they are hatched, there is a chance that I will get the second and forget about Tanzania.”

Also, some Rwandan men married to Tanzanian women, as statistics indicated were forced to leave their children behind.

According to psychologist Martin Kamanzi, the parents may experience psychological consequences of the separation.

He described the act as “a shameful mistake” noting that forced separations of children and mothers devastates families.

According to Kamanzi, leaving children behind results into feeling of loss, grief and disempowerment of teh returnees.

“The mothers may suffer major depression ...those who left infant children may suffer more than those who were separated with adult children,” he said.

Over 7,000 Rwandans have been evicted from Tanzania. The  Government has assured the returnees of smooth intergration.

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