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COVID-19: Niyigena struggles to raise her children alone, fathers don’t care

Clementine Niyigena 20, from Gatenga sector in Kicukiro District had her first baby when she was 15. At the time, she was a maid after fleeing her home after failing to live in harmony with her step mother.

The ordeal of her life started after her mother died and with tone of responsibilities as the elder daughter, his father married the second wife who she said began to mistreat her.

“I decided to find a job of maid, no very far from my home,” she said.

It was in that period that she met a boyfriend, older than her, and they slept together which resulted into a pregnancy, she said.

“I remember the day I got pregnant, he invited me to go at the Trade fair exhibition (expo) but instead of going there, he conducted me directly at his home,” she narrated.

After getting aware of her status, she immediately returned at her home and endured mistreatment from his father.

“He was angry at me, and he was right…I misbehaved and got pregnant. He even beat me, but he didn’t throw me out of the house,” she sadly remembered.

She gave birth to a baby boy but life was not easy. She returned to housekeeping job to find some money to care for her baby.

“The father to the baby disappeared shortly after I informed him that I was pregnant. We tried to find him I and my father, but his family always covered him and we decided to step down and raise my child alone,” she said.

Niyigena’s father decided to register his grandson as his own, she said.

The second baby

Niyigena met a second guy and they fall in love. However, the love vanished when she told her darling that she was pregnant, for her second baby.

“I was going to commit a suicide, it was too much for me and this time I was not able to bear the consequences,” he said.

Since then, they never communicated, as it is for her first child’s father, he said.

“For now I live by doing petty jobs like washing clothes for neighbors, cleaning and working in gardens among others. When I find Rwf2000, I save Rwf1000, and spend the rest to buy basic needs for my children. However, now it is even hard to find these small jobs because of COVID-19,” she said.

“I wish I could find support to learn hands-on skills like making shoes, or tailoring. If I find something to do, I would focus on my future and my children welfare,” she added.

Alodie Octavie Akoyiremeye, the president of National Children Council, requested the parents to be close to their children, which is the best strategy to help them overcome temptations they meet every day.

“We have a problem that the community does no longer care about children in general. Neighbors don’t react when they find teen girls being defiled.  Parents are always absent searching for money and in-between, children are losing their future,” she said.

Jeannette Bayisenga, the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion urged every Rwandan to feel concerned with Child defilement, and they have to contribute to ending it.

“It requires strong collaboration. Decision makers, people who set laws, religious and civil society…we have to join effort and fight against defilement,” she said.

According to Ministry of Health, more than 15 thousand girls under 18 gave birth from January to August 2019. Girls between 15 and 17 were the most touched than others.

By Marie Anne Dushimimana


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