Burkina Faso


Rebuilding her life Finding hope after a horrific assault

Turning tragedy into triumph

By Gezahegn Gebremariam

Kidnapped, held against her will and raped, Jamila was helped to escape by social workers in her community.

between UNICEF and Children Believe, provided mental health and psychosocial support services to thousands of displaced people in north Burkina Faso. Because of donors like you, Mounia and many like her, had the choice to receive school fees and food supplies to help them get their lives back on track. Four years later, Mounia continues to raise her much-loved daughter (born as a result of the rape) while pursuing a higher education. After completing the schooling needed, she entered university, where she is in her first year of psychology and psychosocial intervention. After her daughter, this new career opportunity is her main passion so that she can help other young women who suffered from similar acts of violence. “I want to specialize in psychology in order to provide solutions to these crimes,” she says. “I want to one day become a humanitarian aid worker who will be responsible for taking care of people who have been subjected to gender based violence.” There are more young women like Mounia in search of this help, but thankfully Mounia can pursue her life ambition both inside and outside the classroom. Beyond her studies, she is already becoming a community leader, working for an association that integrates youth into a local support centre. And this industrious young mother and student hasn’t stopped there. She also makes and sells liquid soap in her neighbourhood to help earn income for her and her family. Mounia suffered through being raped, but with pyschosocial support and her personal determination, she overcame the trauma and is now studying psychology for a career helping other young women who suffer similar ordeals.

By Fanta Konde and Assetou Zalle



kidnapping, accessing counselling, and continuing her education to follow her career dreams, came through a Children Believe partner working in this area of Ethiopia. The need continues to grow, but thanks to the support of Canadian donors, Bole Bible Baptist Church Child Care and Community Development (BBBC) staff are better equipped to help young women like Jamila at every stage of an ordeal like she experienced, from the community watch that alerted police, to guiding her through counselling as part of the healing process. Staff with BBBC report she has been an active participant in their school-girls clubs where victims of gender-based violence get free legal, medical and psychological support. In partnership with Children Believe, the agency has wide-scale programs to prevent such violence in the community and leads Community Conversation programs with the Child Protection Committee they established. They also launched Child Rights Clubs, Girls Clubs, and a Child Parliament to raise awareness of child protection issues. Jamila has found a way to seize her own future. She works as a waitress at a hotel to save money for her roadside tea-coffee business while taking classes on weekends to complete her studies in accounting. She lives with her sister in a rental house, caring for their single mother with a mental illness. “My sincere thanks go to the Children Believe programs which, have helped to heal my wounds and restart my academic career,” Jamila says.

was a victim of rape during the security crisis in my community,” says Mounia, a young woman in central- northern Burkina Faso whose name has been changed to protect her identity. “(Because of the attack) I was left out of school and marginalized by those around me.” Even before the attack, Mounia’s impoverished family had been hit by one tragedy after another. Mounia’s father had died two years earlier, and her mother couldn’t provide for the family due to being partially paralyzed. “I had difficult living conditions with my mother, who was ill and had no financial means to pay my school fees,” Mounia recalls. Things continued to turn for the worse for Mounia and her mother. They were forced to flee their home because of the worsening conflict in the region, and it was on their journey Mounia was raped. Eventually, they ended up at a camp for displaced people with a very uncertain future. It was a time of darkness and despair. Hopeful new beginnings But she didn’t give up. Mounia was determined to be more than a statistic. About a month after settling into the camp, she finally found a glimmer of hope through the helping hand of a social worker from a Children Believe program. That was when Mounia chose to participate in a program she desperately needed so that she could begin to heal emotionally from being forced from her home and raped. The program, part of a partnership

amila’s life changed in an instant when four men with weapons kidnapped her while she was on her way home. After being raped by one attacker, they tried to force her to marry him while she lay blindfolded and in pain on a cold floor, begging not to be killed. Thankfully, the community discovered what had happened and Jamila was brought home. “As a result of a social worker intervening, the police were called and all of my kidnappers, including the one who had raped me, were caught,” Jamila says. “My life was undoubtedly saved, and I was liberated thanks to the community workers' hard work, the police and the community's awareness.” The men responsible for the crime were charged and received prison sentences. Recovering and rebuilding One ordeal was replaced by another though, as Jamila, just 16, began a difficult road to recovery from her experience. Sexual assault and rape are severe examples of gender-based violence, which can have a devastating impact that can last a lifetime. Fortunately, she got the help she needed. “Professional counsellors assisted me with ongoing psychosocial counselling,” she says. “When I returned to school in Grade 10, I was able to successfully complete my high school education. I currently attend one of the private colleges as a second-year diploma student, studying accounting on the weekends and at night.” All of the support, from helping her escape

12 ChildVoice 2023 ANNUAL REPORT ISSUE

ChildVoice 2023 ANNUAL REPORT ISSUE 13

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