Taking Help Back to the Villages

The biggest holidays in Rwanda are Christmas and the New Year. In Rwanda, this means gathering together as a family, sharing food, and sharing stories. There is an assumption that there are more jobs inside Kigali than outside Kigali, which is true to some extent. Christmas and New Year’s is a time for those who work in the city to return to celebrate with the family and friends they left behind. This is true for the women at DuHope as well. These two days of celebration hold a special place in their heart and they look forward to them now more than ever.

The women at DuHope have always tried to bring food, clothes, and money to their families living in the village, despite where the money came from. In the past, the women at DuHope, like so many other women involved in survival sex work, would feel ashamed to tell their families where they earned their money. For some women, such as Redempta, the money earned from sex work was cursed. For others, having to explain to their families how they got the money was enough to deter them from going home for the holidays at all.

This holiday season, the women are brimming with excitement to return to their families. Some women, such as Alphonsine, will bring food, clothes, and soda. Alphonsine also supports her niece by paying for her school fees, clothes, and shoes. Others, such as Jeanne, will return to take care of her child, who lives in the village. She hopes to return to the village to start her own business one day.

Working at DuHope has given them a new sense of pride and accomplishment behind the money they bring home. Beyond giving them a stable income, DuHope has given them a job with dignity, that garners respect from their families and friends, who once distanced themselves from them. Many of the women have been able to mend relationships long damaged.