RAHARISOA, Célestine

RAHARISOA, Célestine

Date: April 5, 2016
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My name is Célestine RAHARISOA. I’m 45 and I live in Ambatondrazaka. I had to drop out of school because I had to work as a maid at an early age to help my mother who divorced my father.

I got married when I was 20. One year and a half after my wedding, my husband began to show his real traits. He started cheating on me, and then he beat me. One day, he kicked me so hard that I had to stay at the hospital for two weeks. He stopped being violent for a little while and then went on. I couldn’t do anything, neither did my parents, as my husband was the one who took charge of the family’s livelihood . He began not to sleep at home. Whenever I reacted, he yelled at me, he kicked and slapped me. When he came back from his mistress, not only was he drunk but he also forced me have to sexual intercourse with him. If I happened not to accept, I was beaten immediately.

Later on I could no longer bear the situation so I decided to leave our home and go back to my parents. I resumed my job as a maid

Many years later, I met a man who wanted to marry me. We had two daughters. This second husband was very selfish. He didn’t want to spend any penny for our children and didn’t take care of them. It’s only me who did. Besides, he lost his job just after our second child’s birth, so I was the only one who was in charge of the financial support of the household. My husband did nothing at all and told me that it was my turn to bring money home.

I always have to borrow money in order to be able to take care of my children and be able to send them to school. My husband could find small jobs but he spent all his pay outside. When I asked him for money, he just said it was over and told me that I should make no comment because it was not my money. That’s how we lived for years in the household.

Later on, I met Mrs RASOAMANIRY and told her about what happened in my household. Four months later, she informed me about a training given by an organization called Gender Links which might help me. I attended the first workshop on 18 August 2014 at the Council of Ambatondrazaka. It was about gender equality and fight against violence. All the things I didn’t understand before have become clear to me. We were also given a training about entrepreneurship including market issues. Later on we learnt how to earn money and how to manage incomes and expenses. My knowledge and skills have increased.


I have endured all the types of violence a human being has ever endured. I was not aware of that till I attended the training which informed me about the sorts of violence women may suffer from: kicking and slapping done by the husband, the fact that I’m the only one who financially took charge of my husband and children, my husband cheating on me, his daily insults, his forcing me to have sexual intercourse with him, and so on!

I was interested in all the issues raised during the training as I needed them all for my future life.

At the beginning, my husband didn’t want me to attend the training saying I couldn’t earn money as I did every day but I didn’t listen to him because I trusted Mrs RASOAMANIRY who told me the training would change my life.

Before I sold vegetables, tomatoes, onions, chewing tobacco…After the training I benefited from, changes have occurred in my life: I could buy a piglet with the money I had saved from my business profit. It has grown bigger and I plan to sell it for Christmas. I could also get another one after I applied the instructions given during the training. I’m keeping a written record of incomes and expenses, which I hadn’t done before because I hadn’t known to do that.

I have no problem with the income-generating activity I’m carrying out since I applied the advices provided during the training. I have improved my communication skills, I can convince people, I have become more self-confident. In order to expand my business, I have had the courage to borrow money from rich people in the neighbourhood. The Council helped me through Mrs RASOAMANIRY, a councillor, who informed me about GL training.

I no longer suffer from violence because my life has completely changed. Before, I could hardly survive. My husband has also changed. He no longer does what he used to do before because both of us earn money. Our children are like others’: they wear clean clothes and go to school. People around me are happy with the changes happening in my personal life and in my household life. Even the relatives who rejected me before have become closer to me.

I personally think there is a link between financial autonomy and violence. If I take my case as an example, what I mainly suffered from was economic violence. So when I found a solution to face it, when I became able to deal with financial management the right way, everything is going smoothly. I no longer care about my husband not giving me money, because I use mine.

Those changes astonished people in the neighbourhood. There is a woman who lives next to us. We used to chat with each other but since changes occurred in my life, she stopped talking with me. May be she enjoyed seeing me suffering and now that my life has changed she possibly fears that I may go farther and live in better conditions than her.

I tell people about the origins of the changes happening in my life. That’s my contribution to the community development. I have a neighbor who was always drank and made his wife and children suffer. One day he came to my shop but he was not drunk. I told him that if he saved the money he was spending every day for alcohol, he would have enough funds to help his wife start a business, which would change their life. He decided to have a try. He bought some cassava with the 2 000 Ar he used to buy alcohol with and had it sold by his wife. Having gained a 100% profit, the couple decided to go on.

I enjoy many advantages compared with people around me. I have gained a comprehensive knowledge about income and expense management and about how to run my household. I now have living room furniture and a TV set, so, my neighbours come to my house every evening to watch TV.

The lessons I learnt from the first training about gender equality and fight against violence are about the relation between violence and economic empowerment , about how to become more confident and mature,  how to get reflection and persuasion skills, how to become more courageous, not shy and humble.  I began to apply all those lessons in order to achieve a personal development.

Before starting a business I have to do a market research in order to know if the business will really bring profit. I have to think carefully before setting up the business. That’s also the lesson I learnt from the training.

My goal is to buy a piece of land on a road side where I will build a grocery shop. I have already saved some money from the profit I’ve had so far.

To conclude, I would like to thank Mrs RASOAMANIRY for showing me the way and Gender Links for sending trainers who helped us increase our knowledge and skills: Mrs Lanto, Mrs Kathy, Mrs Tatiana. God bless you all and reward you for all the good things you gave us.