“I lost my business, my reputation and my self-esteem”

Gaudance, 40, was a successful businesswoman until she fell in love and got married. Her husband turned out to be an alcoholic who drove her to attempt suicide. Now, she’s trying to rebuild her life, her business and seek justice with the support of the Girl Guides…

I used to be a successful businesswoman, who sold material to make a living. I was only 20, but it was a good business. I was making enough money to buy a house, with cows and goats for extra income.

When I was 28, I met a man. We moved in together and got married three months later. It soon became apparent that I’d made a mistake. My husband was an emotionally abusive alcoholic. I wanted to escape the marriage and go home, but I’d fallen pregnant and I didn’t know who to turn to. I was embarrassed – I’d lost my business, my reputation and my self-esteem. 

No way out

I couldn’t see any way out and I felt suicide was the only option. I went to the river – I just wanted to drown. It was a long walk and, when I arrived, I was so tired. I was crying and felt as though I was going crazy. I’d spent the entire journey talking to myself. I fell asleep and didn’t leave until a week later, when the villagers came to ask me who I was and where I was from. Eventually, I decided to go home. My husband worked away a lot, and during that time it was the only thing that kept me going. 

Whenever he came home, I would be faced with another challenge and when he was fired from his job, the situation got worse. He would antagonise me constantly and sometimes I would come home to find the door or windows missing. 

Eventually I had no choice but to leave and go home. My father had passed away, so I went to stay with my mother. I felt so embarrassed. I couldn’t even support my family, as I’d lost my fortune. 

16 Days 2017 - Guadance Herve IranKunda / WAGGGS

Sharing my story

I sought faith in the church. They told me there was a group of women who could support me.

At the time, I didn’t I really care about anything, but when I went to find out more about the group, Girl Guides, I was surprised to find so many so many women in the same situation. We started talking to one another, sharing our stories. It gave me strength to accept what had happened and fight for my rights. We went on to learn about our rights, leadership, fundraising and so on. I discovered things I have never learnt in my entire life. 

New opportunities

Violence is still a huge issue in my community, but with the support of the Girl Guides women are slowly starting to speak out and seek justice. As well as receiving healthcare, I’ve also used this opportunity to start building my story, so I can seek justice with the support of my Girl Guiding group.  

Being a Girl Guide has taught me there are positive things in my life. I have started learning new skills, like making shoes and baskets, with the hope I can start a business and lift myself out of poverty.  I want to provide a safe home for my family and I finally feel as though it’s a possibility. 

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