Botswana – Annah Legotse

Date: September 25, 2018
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“It is never too late to rediscover oneself”

At the first Gender Links (GL) workshop that I attended they talked about violence and since I had experienced gender based violence (GBV) in my life I was compelled to stay on and listen. Since then I have learned how to stand up and say no to violence. 

I was a business woman who had a liquor restaurant and a bar. Using violence, my husband sold everything I had and left me with nothing. After that I started a tuck-shop at DRM hospital at Mochudi and for the next 13 years I sold food and cosmetics. I am currently earning my living by selling overall clothes to the public. 

I first encountered GL in the Mochudi District Council. We were invited by the council personnel to attend GL workshops and from then on I attended these workshops. Gender Links invited us to community meetings where they taught us about gender based violence. It was very difficult for me since all the topics being discussed seemed to relate directly to me. 

The type of violence that GL taught us about was the type of violence I had experienced in my life. They taught us how to overcome such situations. They taught us that violence is not the end of one’s life and we can achieve a lot from the little we have.  

Gender Links has opened the beneficiary’s mind and given me confidence through the workshops. I was able to come out and tell my story and it also gave me hope to continue as a business woman and to be aware of GBV. I spent all my time in the house and was afraid to go out, even to a shop or to make friends. Now I am free from all these fears because of GL. 

GL provided training for the GBV survivors to start their own businesses. I am currently in the process of starting my business thanks to Gender Links and I was able to write my “I” story through Gender links. Now, as we speak, I am selling female overall clothes to the public that I used to fear. GL provided me with the business skills that I did not have, they also taught us how to use computers and internet technology. 

There has been change in my close relationships because I was distant from my daughter and my neighbours and now I feel close to them. They understand what I have been through. I also taught them how to overcome GBV and they are now my friends and seek advice from me on gender based violence. For instance, my daughter in South Africa had some issues with her boyfriend and she called me for advice.

I also now motivate people in my community to support those people who are being abused and not label them or discriminate against them. My intention is also to engage dikgosi to make them understand abuse and not take the side of the men all the time.  

I have taken it upon myself to support Okhola Masiele who was one of the women I trained with at Gender Links and I am starting to notice a lot of change in her as well as in myself. 

Coming out and speaking about my own experience of abuse has been very challenging as I was viewed as a woman with no morals who spoke out about her private life in public, but I have not been deterred and I continue to speak out and encourage other women to do likewise. 

In future I intend to go back and re open my catering business and I hope I will be able to get help from the government. No one should suffer in silence, especially when you are married in a foreign country. People should know what service providers are available and seek the appropriate help.