Jean Paul’s story

I was brought up without a father’s presence in my life. My mother would only say that he was a kind man who loved children. When my mother beat me, or when we did not have enough to eat I thought to myself ‘my father would not do this’, or  ‘my father would give me food if he knew I was hungry’.


I later found out that my father had died during genocide. When I was 22 years old a neighbor asked one day ‘Are you related to X, you look just like him’. I then started to investigate myself and I discovered who my father was, and that he had another family of 6 children, who were my brothers and sisters. I made myself known to those people but they did not acknowledge me. They later sold off my father’s land and I did not get a share.


I returned to my mother’s home with a heavy burden and turned to God. I prayed and fasted. My mother would say to me ‘I do not know why you think there is a God, I have never seen him’. This discouraged me, but I continued to pray and was on bad terms with my mother as a result. It was at this time that I fell sick; when I was in the Church I started to shout and cry out, saying strange things. The brothers of the priest beat me up and threw me out of the church saying I was mad. My mother told me to go to another church, but they beat me also and drove me away.


I was eventually taken to the hospital, after a time when I was running mad on the streets. The doctors treated me  and for a time I was separated from other people. I was never told what the illness was; I just believed I was mad. I would spend some time at home and go back to the hospital for treatment. I prayed by myself from home but I did not go to church again.


It was after this that Shemus found me; she had heard of my story from others and said that I could join her group. She told me that there were people who appreciated me as I was and would accept me among them. This was a great thing for me after so many people had mistreated me up because I was mad. I went to that group and have not  left it ever since.


Now I feel part of something and can talk and share my life with others. Since I have been in this group I have not had a return of the madness. I have felt low but not ill again. I earn some money as a casual la bourer and am able to live independently.