Madagascar: Marie Jeannette

Madagascar: Marie Jeannette

Date: April 25, 2016
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I am Marie Jeannette and I live in the town of Toamasina. I married a man who was chosen by my mother even though, I loved someone else. Everything went well in the household until I gave birth to our first child. Then, my husband started to threaten me and didn’t give money. This situation became even worse later because he ended up physical abusing me.

He had a girlfriend who was pregnant. He took her in to our house and she lived with us. I could no longer bear the situation, especially the fact that he still beat me so I decided to break up. I could not bring anything with me; he even burnt all my clothes. He kept our first child with him and wanted me to take the youngest one.

Afterwards, I met someone that I loved but because of my husband’s threats, he wanted to leave me. We tried to make the relationship work because I was pregnant. We still dated each other but chose not to live together because of fear. I decided not to get married anymore. I did handicraft work (weaving and sewing) and sold groceries.

I joined the training organized by Gender Links, I was invited by the council. I missed a training phase when I gave birth to my child.  All the topics discussed during the training were all very interesting. They included women’s rights and fight against the violence perpetrated against them. I was also interested in the session about the income and expense management. We also learnt how to find business partners and new markets outside the locality where we live in, using the internet. Even though I was not really familiar on this technology, I tried to understand the lesson well.

We were asked to develop our own business plan; mine is medicine-selling project. I really wanted to do it, so I decided to follow a training so that I could start my business. I had looked for a business partners who would financially support my business. An organization named “Santenet 2” accepted my proposal.

This training provided by Gender Links really helped me to progress. I am not shy anymore and had the courage to go the council office to talk them about my project. They accepted my proposal and are willing to help. The council has provided a room where I could gather and discuss with community elders and local women’s associations, about my project. We talked about the problems and the situation about medicine availability in the local area. I tried to convince them to help me implement the project and asked if they could provide a place where I could carry out the activity, even if the equipment available was still simple.

The business was going well: many people in the community came to buy medicines at the drugstore. The little problem I met when starting the business some of the people didn’t bring any medical prescription.

As I said at the beginning, I was victim of violence: my husband gave me no money and made me suffer. I endured economic and physical violence. I can say that is over now. However, I still endure moral violence caused by the jealousy of some people who are not happy with my progress. I try to stay away from this violence as I am well aware of the drawbacks it has, and I already know how to face it.

The training offered by the Gender Links was very important for me. It helped me to learn how to be independent and not rely on a man. Even if the work I achieved so far was small, I can say I have what I need. People in the community even asked me to take part in the political life of the council. I was a candidate who canvassed to be a mayor during the recent election (2015) because I could see people were willing to support me. I had action plans and went through the entire step but unfortunately, I was not elected. But I got a position as a counselor. The people in the council kept supporting me until the mayor decided to appoint me as his first assistant.

I did not to accept the appointment because the people in my community asked me not to. Now I am more valuable to my community. We have built a women’s association and a network for the management of the natural resources in the council. I really liked the training because it helps me to build up my capacity and to communicate better with others.

If all my wishes are fulfilled, I am sure that after 5 years, I will have bought a bike for my business. Borrowing money at micro-finance institutions can help to make the projects real but the problem is that they require too much loan guarantee. And I would like to thank Gender Links for the workshops.