May 9, 2021

A young Rwandan mother fights to become resilient and give her son a better future

After the shame of an early pregnancy following a sexual assault, Eugenie is now opening her business, saving money and hoping to see Hero finish college

Despite the political achievement of women’s empowerment and a variety of prevention strategies, including efforts to prevent child sexual abuse, the number of adolescent pregnancies in Rwanda is still worryingly high and has been steadily increasing over the last fifteen years. Two years ago, when she was only 16 years old, Eugenie’s story became part of this sad statistic: she got pregnant after being sexually assaulted. When AVSI identified Eugenie as a beneficiary of a project funded by the RASKOB Foundation to support young mothers in Rwanda, she was desperate, full of shame and guilt.

"I had no more hope for the future," remembers Eugenie. "I felt ashamed of what had happened to me. Nobody could understand me anymore. Over and over, I was reminded of what had happened, and I felt pushed away from my family and those around me."

After meeting AVSI, Eugenie joined a group of teenage mothers. She was attentively listened to and received psychosocial support. She received training on the value of life and financial and saving literacy.

Eugenie also received a cash transfer through the project to help her start and support a small sorghum business. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to keep the business afloat and meet her and her son Ntwari, which means “Hero”, basic needs. AVSI also gave her and the other teenage mothers flour to make porridge and prevent malnutrition.

Eugenie’s small business is now growing. She has bought four goats, a plot of potatoes, three small fields for peas, and continued planting sorghum.

Thanks to the project, alongside her love for her two-year-old son and the support received from her own mother, Eugenie’s life has positively changed. She is now more economically secure and happy. 

"AVSI has given me a new start and the ability to dream again, says Eugenie, who lives with her parents, six siblings and son. "I want to move forward and achieve my goals. Next year, I would like to buy a cow."

Eugenie also plans to open a bank account to continue saving, grow her business and pay for her son’s education.

“I wish my son to become a hero as his name suggests, that he becomes a responsible man for his mother, family, and community,” says Eugenie. “I will be happy to see him study until college. Before, I was ashamed of my son, I saw him as a very heavy burden, but now I can see he is a precious gift of very dear value.”

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