Juliette Munganyinka has been part of DuHope for 6 years. She is the mother of 5 children and before coming to DuHope she was in both sex industry and working as a street vendor for approximately 20 years. She worked at both jobs in order to make more money, which worked some days and other days not. One day she was on the street as usual when Gabie, DuHope’s Program Director, and Mama Theresa, DuHope’s Counselor, approached and shared with her the good news of how she could get off the street by joining DuHope.
During those days on the street she was not happy at all. Waiting for a client was so exhausting and it was cold. Sometimes she did not even have food for her own children. Some men refused to pay. She used to ask herself how long she could live that kind of life. She did not even have parents to go back to because they had passed away.
Before coming to and during her early time in DuHope, she consumed a lot of alcohol. It made her make so many mistakes that still haunt her even now. She recalls a time when a neighbor insulted her child but she was too drunk to even confront that person or stand up for her child. As a mother, she felt shame and embarrassment.
She had no control over her drinking; she drank in the wrong places at the wrong time, and she even came to work drunk. Her fellow artisans knew when she was drunk and that made her super uncomfortable. She was not able to do her work well and she was told to go home many times because of being drunk. She missed so many opportunities that would have helped her because of her drinking problem.
One day she made a decision to stop drinking and since then she has realized that it was one of the best decisions she has ever made about her life. She now has self control when it comes to drinking, a virtue that she needed to apply in every aspect of her life to become a better person.
DuHope also taught her to stand up for herself and to quit depending on men for help. Men used to take advantage of her and abused her. They took so much from her, yet they did not even love her. One day, a man she used to stay with, stole some of her belongings and she decided enough was enough. She knew she could not keep on living that kind of life. Her relationship with that man was very toxic and she failed at so many attempts at cutting him off. Finally, she got the courage to do so because the pain, hurt and disappointment were so unbearable.
Working at DuHope has been so much help financially. She is now able to take care of her needs, as well as taking care of her daughter. This also helped build her independence. She realized she did not need any financial help from men in her life.
She has 4 adult children whose fathers are in their lives, except for the eldest. For a long time Juliette’s relationship with her eldest daughter was not great because she used to blame her mother for her not being able to see her father even though she had no idea of his whereabouts. They were reconciled when Juliette’s daughter gave birth to her first child. Juliette went to visit her in the hospital. Since then they have been great friends.
In addition to that, she has learned values that have helped her be a better mother to her 9 year old daughter, Ange. This is something she was not able to do back when she was drunk and on the street all the time. She could not take care of herself or her kids.
Juliette has taught her daughter discipline. Ange now knows how to greet others and she is responsible. She recently requested a white board and markers from her teacher at DuHope to help the other kids.
Juliette recalls how Ange was not only shy but also fearful whenever she saw Jamie or other visitors, but over time her confidence has grown and she has learned how to express herself and she is more comfortable approaching other people. Juliette thinks seeing Jamie was Ange’s first time to see someone who had skin different from hers.
Juliette has also taught her to pray and she realizes that sometimes she needs to remind her. Ange is smart and her grades are good. Every time Juliette recalls her life before coming to DuHope she is filled with so much gratitude to be a part of DuHope. She feels lucky and blessed.
Written by Ange Masengesho, DuHope Social Worker