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  • The mother girl

    Munyakazi

    “At first, I feared the raw movements, but then I saw that there was no violence and no movement would hurt me.”

     

    Capoeira became an important appointment in Munyakazi’s routine. Twice a week, she attends classes taught by Congolese teachers and led by Master Saudade.

    The meeting point is at the Heal Africa hospital in downtown Goma, which is a reference in the province for the treatment of girls and women victims of sexual violence.

    Practicing this martial art has helped the 16-year-old girl overcome a trauma that she suffered a few years earlier.

    At 14, the girl was drugged and raped by a man from her neighborhood, Quartier Birere, a populous suburban area of Goma.

    She naively offered to fetch water for a man who had asked her a favor. Ignoring his intentions, after bringing him buckets of water, she was intoxicated and lost consciousness after the man thanked her with a drink.

    Shortly after the violence, Munyakazi became pregnant by the man who had abused her. The effects profoundly marked her life.

    © Flavio Forner

    As a child, she quickly had to become a mother and had to abandon her dream of finishing her studies in replace of motherhood.

    “I do not remember anything that happened that day. I was raped, I got pregnant, and today I have a baby. Soon she will be one year old”, she said.

    Munyakazi is the second oldest daughter of five siblings. After giving birth to little Karen, Munyakazi still tries to get used to the challenges that maternity imposes on her and she depends a lot on her mother to help with the care of the little girl.

    “I feed and bathe her, but in many other aspects, it is my mother who helps. I was not ready, I never expected to have a child. The transition from being a girl to becoming a mother was not easy for me”, she admits.

    Since birth, her day is entirely dedicated to the baby. “I wait for the hours to go by until the next day. Nothing special.”

    She started attending support sessions at Heal Africa. That represented a new start for Munyakazi.

    Her eyes shone as she saw girls and boys together in a circle, dancing to the sound of a single-string musical instrument, which she would discover shortly after that it was called berimbau.

    Without knowing much about what it was, whether a fight or simply a game, she approached and curiously asked if she could participate. It has already been some months since Munyakazi was delighted by the practice.

    After taking care of little Karen, playing Capoeira became her great occupation. The practice has changed her life and helped her rebuild what was left of her self-esteem.

    “I like Capoeira. It helps with my health and my friendships. When class is over, we always keep playing on our way back home.”

    She found out that, even though it was a fight, no player should ever touch the other, or even hurt. “That’s why I really love Capoeira.”

    Munyakazi became an example in her neighborhood Birere and persuaded several of her neighbors to attend classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

    “Capoeira helps me overcome what I’ve been through. Teachers talk to me and give me advices and encouragement. Little by little, they have helped me. ”

    Her dream is to be able to resume her life. “I want to lead my life with my own hands”.

    The teenager will not have his original name disclosed. To ensure the integrity and safety of children under the age of 18 and to follow UNICEF guidelines, the children interviewed in this project were identified by fictitious names.
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