Today I have the honor of introducing you to an incredible woman named Florence. The Dignity Project recently partnered with a trauma counseling group here in Uganda called Tutapona. Florence was a recipient of our Dignity Kits.
"My name is Florence and I am 39 years old. In 1993 when the war broke out in Burundi the rebels came to my home when I was 16 years old. The first thing they did was rape my mother. Then, they gave me alcohol and told me not to shout or scream as 20 men gang raped me. I was trying to fight back but they held a knife to my neck. My mother managed to escape to my stepsisters house and asked her to take her to the hospital but on the way to the hospital my Mum bled all over her car and so she killed my Mum.
I fell pregnant because of the rape but had many injuries to that area of my body. Because of the injuries I was in hospital for the entire pregnancy and then many months after the birth. One day when my baby was 3.5 months old the hospital was raided by the rebels. I never saw my baby again. I don’t know if he is dead or alive to this day. I went home but my step family chased me from our home because I had slept with rebels.
I eventually met a kind man and we married in 1997. I was leaking urine but not that much and we managed to get pregnant. The doctors ordered me to keep my legs up as much as I could and I finally gave birth to a baby girl. After I gave birth I had severe problems in that area such that I have had to wear adult diapers up to now. We lived in Burundi until my daughter was 8 but one day the rebels came again and I was not with my daughter at the time. My stepsister took her and I have not seen her since. I heard that they tell her we are dead. She is 16 right now. I have spent 8 years without seeing her. We fled to Kampala and I have now been in Nakivale Refugee Settlement for 3 years.I came to know about Tutapona and shared with them about my life through counseling sessions. They talked to me and cared for me. They are loving towards me. Before I met Tutapona I had lost hope as I thought no one cares for me, but they have restored my hope. God knows whether my son is dead or alive. Tutapona has told me that I will one day meet both of my children again in heaven."
As I receive the kits that you all make, I ask God to open doors that will allow us to touch the lives of the women who need them most. As should be expected, He has been faithful. It is a tremendous honor to serve with you.
[stunning images and interview by Helen Manson]