Botswana: Thato Simon

Date: September 5, 2018
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My life was worthless and hopeless but when I heard about Gender Links (GL), I never hesitated and started attending their workshops. In 2013, I consulted one of the Social Workers in the village and shared with her my life experiences. I revealed everything to her and she told me about Gender Links programs. I was living in an abusive relationship and everyone around me knew about it. 

During these workshops, I learnt a lot about Gender Based Violence (GBV) and as we speak, I am aware and assertive on issues of gender and human rights. It was unbelievable but with grace I won the battle and even up to date quite a number of women ask me how I managed to survive from that abusive relationship. I am always delighted to testify how GL helped me out of that miserable life.  I am now a self-assured woman with dignity all because of GL besides I am constantly giving guidance to these women on issues of fighting against GBV at both personal and community level. Currently these women consider me as their role model and some of them now live positive lives, free from GBV. 

I am so grateful for GL because they offer essential services to the community. Hence I edge everyone to utilize these services as they are fruitful especially amongst women. Even though writing our stories reminded us of all the pain and trauma we went through, we are so grateful to have been given a chance to share our life experiences through “Repeat I story ” initiative because it helped us discover ourselves. It was not an easy process but we have healed and moved on with our lives.  

Furthermore I was one the people who were invited to attend the “I story book” launch ceremony in Gaborone and it was such a delightful experience.  I had a chance to interact with Ministers and Members of Parliament at the occasion and I extend my gratitude to GL for the hospitality and opportunity granted. 

I was also invited for the entrepreneurship workshop in Gaborone where we learnt quite a lot about writing business plans. During the first days, I was clueless on the topics presented but I ended up catching up on the topics.  

After this entire journey with GL, I have since done a commendable job with my business and as we speak, I am now aspiring business woman with a registered company. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has helped me with funds to start up my butchery. It was not an easy process but I have achieved my goal. On the other hand our lives have changed ever since we met GL hence we no longer live in abusive relationships. I thank GL staff for the support they have given us ever since we met them.

I will forever cherish the knowledge they have imparted to us and they will always be close to my heart. I also extended my warm gratitude to my family for all the support they have given me. They have never turned their backs on me during my struggle especially my siblings. I wish I could celebrate my success and show the world how GL has helped. 

I have bought my self a car using the profits from my butcher and have expanded my business now I am selling food on the side. I have paid 80% of the loan I received from Ministry of youth. My life have changed I am very happy and I got married October 2017.