Artisan Spotlight: Francine
Watch an interview with Francine HERE!
Francine is 43 years old and married. She and her husband have a blended family of 8 children. Her husband has mental problems and has been sick for a long time, so Francine takes care of the children. Her husband is much better now compared to the early days when he first became sick. Even though he stays home, he does not do much to help Francine in terms of working and providing for his family.
While growing up, Francine’s father was physically abusive and cheated on her mom. Her mom took the children and began working on other people’s farms to help provide for them. Her grandparents also helped her mom take care of the children. Francine is the youngest of 6 children. Her mom also took in Francine’s sister’s children to raise after she passed away.
At the age of 18, someone she knew in the neighborhood brought her to Kigali in search of a job. She started working as a maid, but the money was not enough, and her housemate introduced her to prostitution. After Francine started working on the streets, she quickly realized that it was a tough life, but she felt like she needed to keep on doing it because she needed the money. She experienced so much trauma in that kind of life. She was sometimes forced to have sex against her will. Some of her clients refused to pay or paid less than they agreed on. She also ended up contracting HIV because there were days she did not use protection.
Francine's life has been full of betrayal and disappointment. Her dad was abusive and then she ended up with an abusive husband. Before her husband got sick, he was an alcoholic and did not do anything at all to support the family. She was struggling to take care of her own family just as her mum did. She realizes this is generational and she does not want this to continue with her own children.
Francine's Children at DuHope
She is concerned about what kind of future her children will have. She is doing her best as a mother, but she believes that there is still so much more to be done. She wants to break those generational ties and she wants her children to have a better life than she's had. She prays for them and encourages them to go to church, but she wonders if it would also help them choose a better path if she shared her story with them.
She learned about DuHope through a mutual friend and being involved in it has changed her life completely. She remembers the first time she heard about it she did not understand what it was all about, but she was interested and hoped it would help her and her family.
When she first started working at DuHope, her income was not very much and sometimes she went back to the streets to help supplement her income. Since then, DuHope has helped her realize so many things she needed help with on her journey to healing. She has also given her life to Jesus after hearing God’s word. The first time she prayed she was carrying a lot of weight from her past and since then, she feels like it has been lifted, and that gives her so much joy and reassurance that her life was meant for so much more.
Through counseling, she realizes how powerful it is to share her deepest struggles, and that allows her to receive healing from her past trauma and hurt.
DuHope has changed her mindset and continues to give her the confidence to work harder to support herself and her family financially. In addition to her earnings with DuHope, she has started a fruit and vegetable business. She is now able to take care of most of their basic needs such as rent, tuition for her kids, clothes, food, medical insurance, and other necessary items.
She feels she has become a better mother. She realizes her fear, insecurities and past trauma affected her children negatively and caused them to feel they were to blame for her problems. Now, she tries to make them feel loved and tries to make them understand that they can be open and free with her as they share their problems, concerns, and whatever they are going through. Even as she disciplines them, they can feel her love.
Francine is giving a different future to her children by educating them, disciplining them, and helping them to make wise decisions as they grow. She wants them to be better citizens, leaders, and parents as well as work hard to financially support themselves as adults because she didn’t have that growing up. She hopes that the generational cycle of poverty will be broken.
Her children being involved in DuHope has helped them be much more disciplined. They love and respect other children. They feel more secure being at DuHope than being at home while Francine is working, and that helps them to not be vulnerable to bad behaviors.
Francine’s children are smart in school, they always get good grades. They all have different personalities; some are introverts and others are extroverts, but they are known to be so loving to other kids. DuHope has created a peaceful environment for the kids since they were little. They are given breakfast and lunch, they have toys to play with, they ride bikes, and they play with other children. Their caregiver helps them with their homework and puts them in check, in terms of discipline. This is so helpful to Francine because she doesn’t feel like she is the only one taking care of the kids; DuHope is helping and that lifts the burden.
DuHope has given her the courage to start a vegetable and fruit business on the side and she was given a small garden at DuHope where she plants her vegetables, she has learned to save for emergencies, and she has both group savings and personal savings account. She also receives clothes and shoes from annual donations for her and the children. The earnings from DuHope and the vegetable business help her to give nutritious meals to her children.