Madagascar: Raminina Justine

Madagascar: Raminina Justine

Date: April 25, 2016
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My name is Raminina Justine. I m 40. I always had to borrow money because we always had financial problems. I found the situation unbearable, so I ended up drinking. My husband didn’t like it and began to beat me. He did so whenever he saw me drunk. Later on, beating me has become a mere habit for him. When there was no money at home, he accused me of having bought alcohol with the money.  This is what he also heard from people in the neighborhood.

One day, a woman came to my shop and could see my bruised face. She couldn’t help asking me about it and we started chatting. Noticing that I had deep problems, she encouraged me to enter a women’s association in Ambatondrazaka which fights against violence. It’s an association where women can share their problems with others and can help each other. A training about how to face those problems was also provided. I was very interested in it because I endured so many sufferings I wanted to get rid of.
I began to attend Gender Links training in October 2014. I hesitated when I knew that the trainers come from Antananarivo. I have never attended any training. It was a good thing Mrs. Soamaniry also attended the training. Knowing one person among the participants reassured a bit.

Many issues were raised during the training. Some of them were particularly helpful for me. One of them is about how to behave in the household and the community. I was a mean woman. I used to quarrel with people around me, I liked gossiping about my siblings and I insulted customers when I got angry so I could hardly have the goods sold. I didn’t give much importance to physical care and I had household-related problems. What I found not very useful in the training was the topic about the use of a computer as I don’t use it for my business. Besides, apart from the technical aspect which is not easy, it’s very expensive.

I was not able to attend some of the training phases as I had to give birth to my child. But I asked my friends about what I had missed. Doing homework was also challenging as no one could help me when I had questions. I also had to take care of the children and the household, so I found it hard to concentrate on homework. I was also afraid of expressing my opinions. Before the training I had two income-generating activities: I washed clothes and sold cassava. Because I was bad-tempered, instead of attracting customers I told them to go away, so most of the time I could not sell the goods. But after the entrepreneurship training I got from Gender Links, I have changed the way I run my business and I was able to buy a pig with the profit I gained from the cooked cassava I had sold.

The training organized by Gender Links in my region helped me a lot because thanks to it, I could get rid of my bad temper. Before I enjoyed quarrelling with people, I liked telling bad things about my relatives, I was bad-tempered, I used to say hurting words and I drank. Now, things have changed: I drink only on special occasions, I try to be nice with customers and I don’t lose time in gossiping. Instead, I focus my attention on how to improve my income-generating activity so that it can help me support my household. Now my children are doing well with their studies because they have the school supplies they need. My children and I can wear clean clothes, the business is running well and I can put some money aside, we are respected by the community. One day, I saved a couple in the neighborhood who was accused of practicing sorcery. I had the courage to testify for them and they were finally declared innocent.

I got a concrete help from the council, from one of its councilors Mrs. Rasoamaniry who informed disadvantaged women like me about Gender Links trainings.  Other people also helped. For example, the regional director of the ministry of population gave us advices on how to avoid the problems we had had before, on how to have an appropriate behavior especially. My husband also helps me by buying cassava, which he had never done before, while my children help me to cook the cassava.

Before, I was among those women who never got any money from their husbands. When my husband was drunk and came back home and found there was no money, he immediately beat me. When women endure such violence, it’s hard for them to concentrate on their income-generating activity. As I got rid of my bad character, people around me have also changed, as far as their relationship with me is concerned. They encouraged me to go on because the change in my behavior has restored our relationship. Now we help each other when we have financial, material or household-related problems.

People in the community are astonished at seeing that I’m able to earn my own living, I no longer depend on anyone, I don’t borrow money anymore, my business is doing well. Some of them even came to help me when I had a delivery complication. Before they stayed away from me because I was bad-tempered and dirty.

I personally think there is a correlation between violence and financial autonomy. Being financially independent means you have your own money. Violence is the beating and insults you suffer from in your home. These two things are related to each other because If you have money to support your household, you will endure no violence at all.
Now, I try to help people around me who have problems. I give them advices about how to face their troubles. I tell them about how to get rid of your bad habits and become a good person. I also encourage the other cassava sellers to improve the quality of their goods.

The trainers we had were skilled. I found the issues about appropriate behavior most helpful. I was also interested at the presentations about the ability to listen to others, to exchange ideas, to help each other, to improve our experience, to save money from the profit gained. I try to apply the knowledge I have got from the training: I keep a written record of incomes and expenses, I have improved the quality of the goods so that it corresponds with customers’ needs and I have improved the materials I use for my business.

I hope to have many more pigs in the future, to gain a profit which will be twice as much of the purchase price, in order to help me prepare my children’s future. What I wish after 15 years is to extend the business premises and open a cafe where people can have breakfast.