Mauritius – Karen Tracy Rayepa

Date: September 20, 2018
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“Be 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 2 months helping with paper work here and there. I was asked by Mary Coopan to help a friend who needs someone to work as there was a very important event coming up (the national summit). I accepted as I couln not say no to her. With lot of hesitation and did not even want to go on the day itself, I was having second thoughts. Not to disappoint her and let her down, I went on the first day but I did not want to go back on the second day, but still I went. This time not to let the company down, I went on the third and fourth day, at the end of the first week, I felt like I was in my place. It felt like home. In two weeks time, I have learned more than I could have learned in a month or two. From this date till now, I regret hesitating at first. It has been a life changing experience. I have grown.  

My views about life, marriage, my neighbour, other people’s life changed. Gender Links objectives of changing mindset was a success over me and my family. I was someone who grew up in a family and society where I was taught that men are the breadwinners, they have the power & we, women, had to accept everything they said and do, we were the ones with less power in a marriage. I pictured my marriage in a way where man go to work, the wife stay at home to take care of the children and prepare dinner for her husband to some extent. However, I never realised that we, women also had the power and by thinking this way, we were encouraging violence.  

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

I have been taking and writing the stories for the Entrepreneurship Programme which made me realise the hard reality of people who were smiling in front of everyone but was living a nightmare inside their homes. I learned to stop judging them until you know the whole story. Part of my personal transformation comes from the GBV Survivors. I saw women fighting for their children, for their freedom, for their rights. This experience showed me that I could be a fighter too.  

Once a month or very often, I discuss about GBV in the association I volunteer at, it helped the children to confide in us about what’s happening in their homes and we advise them about how to react to it.