Artisan Spotlight: Denise

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Before coming to DuHope, Umutoni Denise wasn’t financially stable and depended on her partner for everything. Denise would request money from her husband to buy food and other necessities and he would insult her by asking why she couldn’t find her own job instead of being a burden. This was a situation she didn’t enjoy at all. He made her feel useless because of how he used to speak to her. He also hit her, and that made Denise ask herself why she got married at such a young age. She could have done something else with her life such as getting an education.

She had many expectations of marriage, but it turned into many disappointments and betrayals. She was scared of telling anyone everything she went through, but she started opening up about her struggles during counseling at DuHope, which has brought her so much healing.  Her self-esteem is so much better now.  Her husband hasn’t completely changed yet but he no longer treats her the way he used to.


Even when she got the job at DuHope, her husband didn’t believe her, in fact he often discouraged her.  She wanted to find something to do to support herself financially and contribute something to her own family.


DuHope has given her an opportunity to earn an income, which boosted her confidence and now she is able to support herself financially and take care of her kids as well. She used that confidence to start a small business and she hopes to expand it in the future.  She now even supports her husband, who used to make her feel small and less of value.  He now respects her.


She was also in endless debt and felt trapped in that prison. She always asked herself why she bothered working because she couldn’t overcome that trap. She later made the decision to stop taking loans because she realized she took them out of fear of not being able to give enough to her family and that made the debt worse.


She learned how to balance her needs, wants, and priorities, as well as saving. She understood that you don’t have to buy everything on the list, but you identify the priorities and other things can wait until next month.  This new lifestyle has given her so much financial freedom.


She no longer feels isolated and alone. Being around others has boosted her social skills. She feels valued, has a better mindset, and has learned how to take care of herself, her children, and others. She feels like a completely changed woman for the better. God has used DuHope to help her be the woman she is today, and for that she is super grateful. 


Denise has 3 kids aged 12, 10 and 6 years of age. When Denise came to DuHope 6 years ago, Queen and Niyonshuti were both so young and the youngest, Olivier, was born after she came to DuHope.


DuHope has provided Denise’s children with safety because they are well taken care of, and it shelters them from learning bad behaviors elsewhere. Being around other kids most days during the week has made them feel more comfortable when interacting on a peer-to-peer level. This has contributed a lot to a healthy development of both their minds and their socialization skills. Having been given an opportunity to work and earn an income has helped Denise to care for them, too. Now she can pay for food, school fees, insurance, clothes, and other needs for her children to grow and have better lives.


Her youngest started showing symptoms of epilepsy when he was 2 years old, but Denise had no idea what was wrong. He would literally collapse while walking.  He couldn’t hold something given to him; it would just fall out of his hands. He also has seizures sometimes and he started stammering as well. This brought so much pain and sadness and she just couldn’t understand why her boy was going through this much suffering.


Denise decided to take him to the hospital, and he was given treatment. It has been so helpful, and the boy is doing so much better. He started going to school and hasn’t been showing any symptoms of epilepsy at all. He does well in school, interacts well with other kids, and walks and talks perfectly. Denise believes that God has healed her son because even the doctors didn’t know exactly what was happening; they were just treating the symptoms. 


Written by Ange Masengesho, DuHope Social Worker