Karen Rayepa – Mauritius

Karen Rayepa – Mauritius

Date: July 22, 2015
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Be an actor not a spectator, we are all responsible of our doings or what we are not doing.

I was an intern at Gender Links for two months. I helped with the paper work. I was asked by Mary Coopan to help a friend who needed someone to work as there was a very important event coming up (the national summit). As I could not say no to her, I accepted with lot of hesitation. I did not even want to go on the day itself as I was having second thoughts. As I did not want to disappoint her and let her down, I went on the first day but I didn’t want to go back on the second day, but nevertheless went. As I did not want to let the company down, I went on the third day and the fourth day. At the end of the first week, I felt like I was at home. In two weeks’ time, I learned more than I could have learned in a month or two. Since that day, I have regretted hesitating. It has been a life changing experience. I have grown.

My views about life, marriage, my neighbour and other people’s lives have changed. Gender Links’ objective of changing mind sets has been a success for me and my family. I grew up in a family and a society where I was taught that men are the breadwinners, they have the power and we women had to accept everything they said and did. We were the ones with less power in the marriage. I pictured my marriage in a way where the man went to work and the wife stayed at home to take care of the children and prepare dinner for her husband. I never realised that we women also had the power and by thinking this way, we were encouraging violence.

Gender Links can take all the credit for this change; I have been in the middle of the conversation, a conversation that I tended to avoid. It was through the activities that Gender Links organised or participated in that I learned everything. Anushka Virahsawmy, Loga Virahsawmy and especially Mary Coopan, have inculcated in me these values and life changing lessons.

Through a training of trainers’ session with the AISEC, I learned about the different ways in which one can conduct a public speaking information session. I have been listening to and writing down stories for the Entrepreneurship Programme. This has made me realise the hard reality of people who smile in front of everyone but are living a nightmare inside their homes. I learned to stop judging them until I knew the whole story.

Part of my personal transformation comes from the survivors of gender based violence. I saw women fighting for their children, for their freedom and for their rights. This experience showed me that I could be a fighter too.

Talking about my experience and the hard reality faced by people around us, and how it opened my eyes, has made it easier for my family members to talk about problems and discuss issues. I feel closer to them. It helped my family to open their eyes about violence and equality between couples and every day this progressively brings change.

Once a month or at least very often, I discuss gender based violence at the association at which I volunteer. It has helped the children to confide in us about what is happening in their homes and we advise them on how to react to it.


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