Imagine being a young girl and losing your mother just as you’re entering adolescence. Hikima’s mother died when Hikima* was just a girl of 13. Her father remarried a year later. In 1993, the civil war began in Burundi sending the family into even greater turmoil. Hikima’s father and two of her brothers were killed in the genocide. Hikima ended up in a camp where she stayed for four years.
After leaving the camp, Hikima moved to Bujumbura to look for work as a babysitter. She ended up working for a woman who eventually told Hikima she could only stay with her if she earned money working as a prostitute. Believing she had no choice, Hikima agreed. “I would sell my body in prostitution for 15 cents.” She had harrowing experiences and the life terrified her.
Hikima was desperate for a way out and accepted a proposal from a man she knew. He found a house for them and together they had 3 children. He was a driver and they were able to save some money. When Hikima was 7 months pregnant with their third child, her husband was killed in an accident. Hikima was depressed and sad. Things grew even more frightful when she went to the hospital to have her baby and tested positive for HIV. Hikima thanks God that her son, who is now four years old, does not have the disease.
Hikima struggled after her husband’s death and her diagnosis. When she could not pay the rent, she was put out of her home. She speaks of the difficulty of finding somewhere to sleep with three children in tow. Life was hard and food was not always available for them. If they didn’t have anything to eat, they would just go to sleep. She was told about Homecare by one of the graduates.
“I was a very sick widow, had no food or clothes. If I had not come to this place I’d be dead. I often did not think I would live until the next day. I have gained some weight and grown in appetite since I came here. Now I have accepted Christ and...His love. Now I smile all the time.”
Hikima graduated from the Homecare Sewing Center in Burundi in June 2014. She continues to receive training and support so she can grow in confidence as she uses her sewing machine to build her business.
* Not her real name.