Marie Jeannette

Marie Jeannette

Date: April 5, 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 if, at that time, 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 it ended up with physical abuse.

He had a girlfriend who was pregnant. He took the latter 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 due to my husband’s threats, he wanted to leave me. Finally we stayed together because I was pregnant. We still dated each other but chose not to live together by fear. I decided not to get married anymore. I did handicraft work (weaving and sewing) and sold groceries.

I followed a medical training because my dream was to become a nurse. Unfortunately, my parents could not afford the training fees so I did not reach my goal.

Later, I followed a training organized by Gender Links, I had heard about it at 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 o develop our own work plan; mine was a medicine-selling project. I really wanted to do it so I decided to follow a training about the issue. I looked for who business partners who would financially support my studies. An organization named “Santenet 2” accepted to do so. The training was held at TODIKA and I really enjoyed it because I gained more experience.

This training provided by Gender Links really helped me to progress. I was not shy anymore and had the courage to go the council office to talk them about my project. They accepted to help me. They 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 activity was going well : many people in the community came to buy medicines at the drugstore. The little problem I met when starting the activity was that they didn’t bring any medical prescription, yet the local doctor had already informed the community about the need for them to see him before buying any medicine. But most of them didn’t.

As I told 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 given 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. I do not feel ashamed in front of my relatives and the community; I can be proud because I take the responsibilities I have to face, especially in bringing up my children and sending them to school. People in the community even asked me to take part in the political life of the council. I was a candidate 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. Even though, I got a position as a councillor. The people in the council kept supporting me until the mayor decided to appoint me as his first assistant.

I decided not to accept this appointment because the people in my community asked me not to. They wanted me to become the president of councillors in Antenina ( where I have one shop), which happened. Besides, the people in Toamasina I asked me to be a candidate for the position of Head of the Fokontany in the next election. I grew up in Toamasina and have a house here. I could build that house from the benefits I got from the project, thanks to the training I had with Gender Links and the cooperation with ADEFI-ACEP micro-finance this year 2015.

Now I feel being more valuable on the eyes of the community. We have built a women’s association and a network for the management of the natural resources in the council. I provided seeds for this association thanks to the help of some business partners. Now I have a shop in Toamasina where I can sell my handicraft products – because I have experience in handicraft and sewing-, and I use the benefits gained to run the drugstore in Antenina.

I really liked the training because it helps me to build up my capacity and to communicate better with others .

I applied the lessons I had learnt during GenderLinks training and I could find business partners to work with me in my project as I wanted to develop the activity, have a standardized drugstore and enhance the variety of medicines available. I also wish to increase my handicraft products to be sold during the season of vanilla, cloves and litchis every year.

If all my wishes are fulfilled, I am sure that after 5 years, I will no longer go on foot while transporting goods but use a motorbike.. or why not a car? 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 an important person to be a contractor.

Because my life has completely changed and has been progressing after I attended Gender Links training and because it is very important for me, I would like to thank all the facilitators profusely.