NANGALULA VERA

My name is NANGALULA VERA, my home village is Remera Uvira District, Congo. I did grade 6 primary school as my education journey. I am 46 years old and a mother to 11 children.

Both my parents died when I was 9 years old and my young sisters and I grew up under my Auntie’s care in Remera. I was taken to live with my husband against my own will, as my Auntie was an abandoned woman whose life was going through several difficulties. Her husband left her with 9 children and never returned. As my Auntie found herself unable to afford to pay for the needs of her children and that of me and my young sisters, she decided to take me to a man for marriage at the age of 14 years old. This man was an alcoholic. Days later, my 4 young sisters faced the same fate, being forced into marriage against their will.

During my marriage, I can’t say that I really ever experienced happiness. I was living with a man who was not my choice, and almost 20 years older than me. I was everything in my household. I had to cultivate the land to feed my family on my own. My children did not have a chance to go to school as I could not afford to pay the school fees. On top of it all, my husband started trading household stuff for alcohol. After 29 years of struggle in this marriage, my husband passed away. One year after my husband’s death, I narrowly escaped being raped, twice during the night by armed men in my village.

Two years now since I left the village, escaping the dangers of life with my children. Something that makes me so sad is when I hear my young boy saying that he wants to become a bus driver. Without schooling he will not be able to follow his dream.

I was so excited the first time I heard of the reading program at Grace Orphanage and that it will target widows and single mothers. I am one of those who live in a different world due to my low education level compared to others. With only grade 6 I feel left behind in so many things of today’s world. I’m living in the same world with others but with a lot of limitations which always makes me feel inferior. Whenever I am before others in my community, I feel that people do not consider my opinions even if I speak to them. The good news that I am holding onto is that through this reading program at Grace Orphanage, I’m going to improve my reading, gain new knowledge, and build relationships with other women in the community. My expectation is that after the training I will be empowered to help my two young children to achieve a better future. I believe that through my new status after training, I would become helpful in my community in general. Thank you for all the initiators of this project.

NABINTU NVANO

My name is NABINTU NVANO, and I am 42 years old. I was born in Runingu village south Kivu, Married to Moise who passed away 8 years ago, leaving me with 5 children. As for my education journey, I studied up to form 5 secondary school (grade 11).
When my husband passed away, according to my husband’s ethnic culture, I was asked to live with his younger brother as a new husband to me. The decision was made for me by my in-law family’s representatives. I this culture the widow has no place to say ‘no’ and if you don’t agree, automatically you are kicked out of the heritage of your husband.
At that time I was 34 years old and I did not want to be remarried in this way. Imagine at that age to be remarried to a young man of 26 years old! I just could not go through with it as his brother was irresponsible and a heavy drinker.
It was on my heart to honour my husband’s vision to own our own house and make sure our children finish school. This vision that I could not expect to achieve with the husband that I was proposed to by my family in law. Because of my decision, my husband’s family kicked me out of their family compound where we were living. I rented a room in a nearby village where I started cultivating the land for my children in order to survive.

My children and I survive on one meal per day. I use my hands to grow food, but the crops from the land are still insufficient to feed my family two meals a day. What is more sad for me is that I still cannot afford the school fees to send my children to school, and they are getting older. Every time we are threatened to be kicked out because of being late with the rent, I always remember that it was my husband’s dream to one day own our own house. My heart cries with a lot of pain, though my hope still alive that before I die, my children would live in a house that my family owns.

This reading program for women at Grace Orphanage gives me new hope, not only for myself but also for other widows who may be going through the same struggles. Poverty affects most people in our community including myself. This poverty results in ignorance, as lack of education results in not practising health/sickness prevention. I am so excited that this reading program is a durable solutions for several problems in our community. As a student in the program with some schooling background, I can also be helping my fellow students with doing the homework. Thank you so much for all those who made this happen for our community.