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Sandra needed a victory.
The illiterate mother of five from Budaga Village doubled as primary caregiver to her father-in-law, a man suffering from continually worsening mental illness.
When he disappeared, the family blamed Sandra. “The situation continued about 45 days and because of a tribal meeting, I was forced to leave my children and my home,” she said.
Sandra was not alone. Three out of four women in this area of the Democratic Republic of Congo are illiterate and ignorant about their rights and health issues such as the repercussions of early marriage and early and numerous pregnancies (fistula, obstructed labor, poverty, rejection and isolation).
Sandra fled to her father’s house. Then, a friend told her about a community literacy course for local women in Gemena province.
The course was part of The Maternal Assistance Project (MAP), a year-long project designed to provide primary health care in five isolated health zones -- Loko, Gemena, Karawa, Tandala and Bangabola in the Northern Equator Province of the DRC. The project emphasized holistic care with innovative strategies designed to maximize successful community and clinical activities to promote health.
Through the literacy activity; Sandra learned not just basic literacy skills, but also about reproductive health, women’s rights and how to manage violence and conflict resolution. Armed with her new knowledge and with the help of her teacher, Sandra started talking with her husband again.
“Now we are all a happy family living together and my husband does not care about what others say about our family,” she said. “Sadly, my father–in-law is still missing, but I am happy that my husband has realized that I am not to blame for his father’s disappearance.”
“I wish that if this course was available to me six years ago so I may not have suffered so much,” Sandra said. “But my request for your organization is please to continue such courses and programs to help other women suffering from the ignorance of illiteracy.”
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