Artisan Spotlight: Victoria
Nyirampayimana Victoria is a 44-year-old single mother with 2 children. She is the second of 5 children and grew up with an abusive and alcoholic father. Having her mother around when she was growing up was really helpful. Despite the abuse her mother endured at the hands of her father, she protected her children, which made them feel safe and comforted. She watched her mum being hit all the time. Her dad even made up a lie that their mother wanted to kill him with poison, and he tried to force Victoria and her siblings to tell everyone in the village about it. They refused to do it because they knew their mom would never do such a thing.
Victoria rushed into romantic relationships, hoping that would make her happier. Being rejected by an alcoholic father who abused her mother was traumatic. Marriage felt like a safe escape. But unfortunately, marriage didn't turn out the way she expected. She was abused by men in the same ways that her mother was abused.
Victoria's painful childhood experiences followed her into adulthood, especially in relationships with men, but rather than being broken down by the memories, she became stronger and that motivated her to work harder. The first time she entered the business world she was only 13 and had a capital of only 300 Rwandan Francs ($0.30). She bought bananas and sold them for a profit of 700frws ($0.70). She was very proud of herself and bought herself a pair of sandals for 400frws ($0.40). She was so excited that she ran home and told everyone that she had bought her new sandals with the money she had earned. She ventured into other businesses, such as selling avocados and clothes, but they were just small ways she could figure out to survive and they did not last long.
She does not recall a time in her life when she expected someone else to rescue or help her instead of supporting herself financially. She knew she had to work hard with all the energy she had. The first time she escaped, she went to her grandmother’s home in Kigali in search of work, but one of her aunts spotted her and reported her to her parents. She was forced to go back home, but that same week, she came back to Kigali.
“It does not matter how hard you work if you come from a poor family like mine. You are limited in your goals for yourself and your self-development because your family depends on you and they expect you to help in one way or another.” -Victoria
She helped build her mom’s house in the village and she always supports her with other needs because she is old and mostly in and out of the hospital because of high blood pressure and other health issues.
Victoria learned about DuHope through a mutual friend who told other women about someone who was helping women in her situation. She recalls they were told that the women could make bracelets and earn 200frws a week if they did well. Victoria kept on coming even though she was not earning a lot of money. Her hope was that in the future, much better things would come, and she did not lose courage. She prefers working hard, staying busy, and doing things that help her grow as a person. She adds her earnings from DuHope to the money she earns from her other business ventures.
Today she works hard to be self-sufficient and pushes herself to work harder for her children. In addition to her work at DuHope, she has a manicure and pedicure business and sells empty, clean jerry cans and bottles. She has always been able to earn money even from a young age and even now she puts great importance on making sure she always has some money on hand for her family.
She used to be so angry when she did things that she later regretted. God’s Word and counseling have helped her learn to control her anger. She feels God has helped her with the gift of patience. Also, she is bold and confident that she can face the storms of life. She wants to live a long and healthy life and her story is a testimony to helping others who are going through tough times.
In addition to this, her relationship with God is stronger than ever. Coming to DuHope, she has learned that God is bigger than her problems and He is always there for her, taking care of her and her children. She used to overwork herself and that brought so much stress that she got migraines. Because of DuHope she learned to do what she has control of and give the rest to God, as well as resting more and worrying less. She no longer has those migraines.
In addition to this counseling, she learned to open up about her struggles. That helped her heal from her past trauma of her abusive father and men who inflicted so much pain on her. Over time she made the choice to forgive them which brought so much joy and peace.
Victoria has 2 daughters, ages 17 and 10. The eldest, Alice, has had health issues since birth and relies on others for her care. She cannot walk, talk, or feed herself. One thing Victoria has learned at DuHope is that as a mother she can also be a friend to her children.
She remembers a time when her second daughter, Kevine, went through a tough time and it was affecting her in a negative way. Victoria was very worried. Later, Kevine broke down and told her what had been happening and after discussing it, both of them were in tears. Since then, their bond has been stronger because she tries to be both a mother and a best friend to her daughters.
Being at DuHope has also helped Kevine. She is learning to be more responsible and is better able to help with chores at home. She is more disciplined and is better at asking her mother’s permission before going somewhere. She also knows how to help take care of her vulnerable older sister. Victoria considers DuHope to be a safe place for Kevine. She does not have to worry about anyone hurting her and being there hinders her from learning bad behaviors. Kevine enjoys playing with the other children at DuHope and being a “big sister” to them. She better understands the importance of cleanliness and is more particular about others touching her clean clothing with dirty hands. She also performs better at school now.
Victoria feels so blessed to have her beautiful daughters and is grateful to God for giving her the energy to work hard every day to support them. DuHope has been such a huge blessing to her family and she feels words are inadequate to describe her thankfulness for the blessing of being a part of DuHope.
Written by Ange Masengesho, DuHope Social Worker