Fleeing a genocide
Ancilla Uzamukunda, is 51 years old from Nyamagabe District, in southern Rwanda. She had her life dramatically changed 24 years ago. In the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda, she fled the country but lost contact with her husband. Tragically, this was just after giving birth to her only child.
Following those tragic events, Ancilla’s main problem has been isolation. Living alone in her house without a secure means to provide for her daughter, she couldn’t think about anything other than death. Her fear and uncertainty of the future were unbearable.
She was also feeling that she didn’t have anything to offer to other people. With this sense of uselessness hanging over her, she barely left the house.
Starting life again
“My life started again when I found something which motivated me to get out of my house”, Ancilla says. She engaged in the Women’s Empowerment Programme run by Trócaire in partnership with local organisation CDJP Gikongoro (the Gikongoro Diocese Justice & Peace Commission).
Thanks to this programme, Ancilla started to be among people again and to tear down the wall of isolation she had built for herself.
“I progressively got interested in different topics, such as property and decision making rights for women, and gender-based violence. I started to ask myself: if I am part of something, if I know my rights, why not become a decision maker in my community?”
The final push was when the community needed representatives to join a group that would report cases of gender-based violence to the authorities. They were looking for an active community member and an upright individual. These were qualities that many people thought that Ancilla embodied. Thanks to her newly gained self-confidence, she accepted to become a candidate and eventually she got elected.
“I am now extremely motivated by the fact that members of my community trust me and see me as a guide when it comes to women related issues” Ancilla proudly declares.