Capucine* is a 23-year-old single mother. Having dropped out of school, she has since returned to year 11 and hopes to complete high school in two years so she can better provide for her 4-year-old daughter.
Every morning, Capucine puts on her school uniform and her daughter’s and walks her to school. “I want to be the best mother to Eléa*. She’s the one who makes me want to keep living,” says Capucine.
Capucine has endured a lot but has emerged stronger and braver for the sake of Eléa.
When she was 18, she got pregnant. It brought shame to her family, so her mother kicked Capucine out.
Capucine came to Bujumbura to search for work but couldn’t find any. A married friend of hers offered to host her and the baby. After a while, Capucine could no longer cope with the husband’s sexual advances and moved out. “I didn’t want to break my friend’s marriage, so I left. I knew I had nowhere to go but to live on the streets,” she said.
At one stage, she got work on a construction site. Although it took its toll on her, it meant she could now feed Eléa. Whilst working, she could ‘live’ in one of the unfinished houses. A fellow worker then encouraged her to return to school. She did so, and the community beautifully rallied around her. People volunteered to care for Eléa during school hours, and when Eléa started, they helped to buy her school materials and contribute towards her school fees. “If it weren’t for this community, my daughter and I wouldn’t have survived,” said Capucine.
GLO Partner Greenland Alliance identifies vulnerable people who have ideas that can generate income. They support them through their Bihinduke Solidarity Groups by providing holistic training and loans (Bihinduke means ‘changed situation’ and comes from the word for ‘transform’). Capucine became involved with one of these groups and is now one of many women who have received a loan. She rents a small plot of land where she grows vegetables she can sell at the market.
Though Capucine is in school, works at a construction site, and owns a small business, she does not earn enough to sustain all her needs; “I still can’t afford to pay rent or afford school fees for my daughter.”
It’s just a matter of time before the house she lives in finishes construction, and then she will have to move out. She is worried about where she will move next. She hopes to find support to finish her studies and provide a safe home for her daughter.
Capucine is now a faithful leader of one of the Bihinduke Solidarity Groups. Under her leadership, her group has reached over £400/$470 in profit. Her story is just one among many as Greenland Alliance works to support women at risk in Burundi.