ANASTASIE ‘S STORY

I can with some certainty say that I have had a sad and difficult life. Within one year of my birth I was an orphan, together with 2 siblings. We were taken to Burundi and brought up there by my Mothers brother. He died when I was 10 and my aunt threw us all out of her house. I came to Kigali and slept in the Parks for a time. I met a lady who told me this was not safe and offered me a home in exchange for me helping in the house. I was treated badly by her, had a lot of heavy work to do and was beaten. I had nowhere to run to, so I stayed. But after 3 years I decided to get married, thinking anything would be better than this.

So I married a man to escape, but he was strict with me and a harsh man. He did not bring money into the home and spent his time drinking and taking drugs. I had 3 children and did casual work to earn some money. At the time of the Genocide I was due to give birth again.

When the killing started in my village, my labour started also. I needed to go to the hospital and so my husband set off to find me a car, cart or even bicycle. He never came back, so after a time my eldest son went and then the next. I never saw any of them again. I was standing in the road, neither going forwards or backwards, my neighbors screamed at me to move away from the killing but I could not move. I had my child alone on the roadside, one kind lady stopped long enough to cut the cord and clean her. I crawled away and hid. Sometime later my 3 rd child found us and lay down beside me.

We went to a refugee camp in Burundi and I fell into a depression. I did not know if anyone had survived. There were no records kept and so no one could tell me. I knew nothing of my husband’s family background and had no home to return to.

When the camp was later emptied we were told to go back to the place we had come from.

I had some money from the time in the camp and on my return to Kigali I opened a small bar in my house selling local beer. I met and married another man and had 2 children. I started to get headaches and they became persistent and severe. None of the medicine I took helped to ease the pain and all the treatments failed to show a cause for the headache. My money was all spent. Then one day the doctor told me I had AIDS following a lengthy period with HIV. My life changed in an instant.

I concluded that I had contracted the disease from my first husband many years ago and knew nothing of it. My current husband was found to be clear of the disease, so he closed the door on the home and walked away. I locked up the house and said “let me just die “But I did not and I had 2 children who were dependant on me also. I was in that condition for 2 years, before I joined a group for other HIV/Aids sufferers. I felt alone but carried on with them until I saw that the leaders of that group kept the money given for members for themselves and withdrew again.

About 3 years ago Andre came to my home to tell me about NOUSPR. I told him about the other group and he said we are not like that. We just talk, learn from each other and help each other. We do things together and earn some money together. I feel very close to these people, we talk and talk. These days I am sometimes a happy lady not thinking of the past, but that I can be proud of my children and myself as a mother. This group and these people have given me enough hope to carry on with my life.