STORIES OF OUR IMPACT
Read the stories of some of the incredible women and girls that SOFERES supports!
The following are just a few of the many changes reported by thousands of women, girls, their families, and their communities we have served.
Grace [Right] is a Burundian single mother with four children, arrived at Dzaleka in 2011. The year after arriving, while working in her garden at the edge of the camp, she was raped by an unidentified person. She became pregnant shortly after the incident and the child is believed to be fathered by an unidentified person. Grace has also been raped again since then. This situation has angered her husband and he has abandoned her and rejected the child. In addition, the neighbors call her ‘An unidentified woman’. Grace does not consider her neighbors a source of support. She was selected for the business training. She’s very satisfied and thankful to SOFERES as well as noticed in her following quote: “I am thankful to SOFERES for providing me this opportunity, before, people ignored that I existed but now I am somebody”.
Esperance is a widow after the husband has been killed during the Civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and was left with eight children. Soon after she has been selected for the tailoring training, she had this to say: “My role changed. Before, I had to resort to prostitution and sex-survive in order to be able to provide for my children. Now I am making clothes. I hope to continue doing lots of things by myself.”
Georgina is living in Dzaleka Camp since 2011. She is a 18 year old refugee girl from Burundi country. This is her story: “I am so glad that SOFERES has taken time to raise awareness of policies to community leaders because most of us were unaware of such rights and laws. Going forward it is important to change the attitudes in order to safe guard the next generation which are young people. I promise to be an ambassador for young people in any other community forums and to champion SRHR for refugee young people to change the mindset of other community leaders in Dzaleka”. He further commended SOFERES for its interventions that have managed to reduce cases of early marriages and early pregnancies which were rampant in Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
Adolphine is a 19 year old girl from Burundi and she is living in Dzaleka Camp since 2017.This is her story: “Before joining the girl’s only youth club I was unaware of my sexual reproductive rights, I was unsure of how to have healthy relationships but after I started attending SOFERES youth club meetings, I now know so much about my rights; about being able to say no. Because of lack of knowledge I ended up falling pregnant at a really young age and I now have a 3 year old child; attending the activities of the program has taught me how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and I know that next time I have a child I will be fully informed and it will be my choice. I wanted to return to school but I couldn’t because I would like to take care of my child and I even began thinking about getting married however through activities such as girls’ discussion forums I have learnt things I never knew before and now I just want to go back to school”
Joyce is living in Dzaleka Camp since 2013, and she is a 18 year old refugee girl from DRC. This is her story: “I have been sexually active since I was 15. And I can honestly say that my rights were violated in most of my sexual experiences. Firstly I did not know that I had the right as a girl to initiate condom use and insist on it, but through the girl discussion forums and youth club meetings, I have learnt that it is my right to make choices about my body. In the past I would be too shy to go to the Tchipatala (clinic) to access services such as contraceptives or condoms due to negative attitudes people in the Camp have about that, but now I feel confident enough to go and receive those services because I have been empowered with knowledge about my rights. I hope SOFERES will continues to empower others refugee girls like me”.
Edina is living in Dzaleka Camp since 2004. She is a 19 year old refugee girl from Rwanda country. This is her story: “I got pregnant when I was 16 years old and was forced to marry the boy who got me pregnant and our child is now 3 years old. Because we were using natural methods of birth control we soon had another child who is now 1 years old. I expressed concern to my husband over how I did not want to have another child yet but instead he told me that children are a gift from God and we should not control that. In 2018, I joined one of the “SOFERES-Girls Not Brides Clubs” and after attending several girls’ discussion forums and life skills education sessions, I have been empowered to make my own decisions and I am now on a long term family planning method. I even got enough confidence to convince my husband to start using modern methods of birth control”
Kwizera is living in Dzaleka Camp since 2010. She is a 19 year old girl from Burundi country. This is her story: Kwizera is the third born in a family in a family of 5. Following her parents’ divorce since she had 14 year, Kwizera moved with her mother who is a jobless. Due to the fact that her mother could not afford to shoulder the responsibility of supporting six children, Kwizera was forced to drop out of school to stay home and help her mother with chores as well as piece work to help increase the family income. Her relatives suggested that she should get married in order to lessen the “burden” on her mother. Through knowledge she obtained from SRHR sessions organized by SOFERES she was aware of her rights as well as the effects of early marriage, she refused to get married. Her relatives continued to pressure Kwizera’s mother to marry her off and labeled her naughty and rebellious for her refusal to marry. Some of her friends referred her to ‘SOFERES- Girls not Brides Club’, one of the youth clubs that was created by SOFERES in 2018 and the members of the youth club who have been trained as advocates of SRHR issues for young people encouraged her to go back to school. Currently, Kwizera is happily enrolled back to school and is an active member of “SOFERES- Girls not Brides Club”. She aspires to become a teacher and hopes that the support she is getting from SOFERES will make her dreams come true. She stated that she wants to be a role model to other girls who were in similar situations so that they are encouraged to return to school.
Neema fled her house when you look at the Democratic Republic of Congo whenever she had been 16, after conflict broke down. Amid the chaos associated with unexpected conflict, she had been divided from her moms and dads, and attained Dzaleka Refugee camp in Malawi alone. She had been coping with a guardian family members until they attempted to force her into marriage. With help from SOFERES, she avoided child marriage. Now she volunteers as an advocate for SOFERES, helping teach parents and communities in regards to the problems of son or daughter wedding. She’s assisted many girls escape forced wedding, just like she ended up being aided.
“Girls within the camp face many issues. Some had been hitched before they arrived right here, together with kiddies once they remained young. Other people had been obligated to have hitched to obtain shelter and food. Lots of girls conceive early. Some die during dangerous abortions … if they already know that they have energy – they’re not going to get married and they’ll search for other available choices in life. When we can inform those girls their legal rights -” quoted by Neema.
Wanyi [left] fled from DRC to Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi to escape being married as a child. With support from SOFERES, Wanyi has learned skills to support herself and her younger sister Miriam in their new home. She quoted: “He was starting to threaten my family. I became really angry and afraid. I was very young and I couldn’t handle marriage. When my father saw all that, he told us to come here. I brought my younger sister because my father knew if she remained behind, then she would encounter similar problems. I feel now that I have more freedom. We were welcomed by SOFERES and now we have hairdressing skills. From that I can earn a living.”