Our hearts break yet soar as we read this part of your story. This is “part” of your story, knowing that this is one chapter, and you have so much more to live, as you graduate the sewing program, work to earn income, live in community with the women you’ve met there, and raise your baby. A baby you did not plan for, a pregnancy that was forced upon you. But, after your parents learned you were pregnant, and “gave up on you,” as it is translated, you did not give up on yourself.
Forced to drop out of school, you learned about the sewing workshop and Teen Mother program, you took action, asked to join, and, now, as you tell us, “My life has changed a lot since I joined the ABFEK program. I share my experience with other people here in the sewing program and I feel comforted, now I have hope, joining this program gives me a new hope for my future.”
You did not let something that was so brutally forced upon you yet simultaneously took something from you, make you give up hope, which is an inspiration to every one who hears or reads your story. Thank you for allowing us into your story and inspiring us to be strong in our own lives — we hope to be part of your community from afar, sending support and encouragement as you walk a new path.
Cikwanine speaks to her situation with strength, sharing with us that Congo needs good leadership to ensure the rights of women and others are respected. When asked what she would tell those of us, paying attention around the globe, she replied, “I want people to know that people here need their support to make peace happen, nothing will be sustainable if we have no peace. Rape against women should stop.”
March is Women’s History Month, and today, the 8th, is International Women’s Day. Let’s celebrate women like Cikwanine, who do not give up hope! She is part of the graduating class of the sewing workshop at the Mumosho Women’s Center – if you want to support her and her classmates as they stitch together new lives and start small businesses as seamstresses, consider donating toward buying a sewing kit. $195 purchases a machine, fabrics, thread, scissors, an iron – all that they need to launch their new lives.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
~ Shel Silverstein
UPDATE on Cikwanine here: School Stories from Congo – 3 Teen Moms on Bringing Back Lost Hope