This is the third part of a series about prostitution in Rwanda. The second part can be seen here, part one and four will be online soon.
Clotide is waiting for us down at the main road, waving as soon as she can see us coming. With her jeans jacket and pant and a big smile all over her face she is not looking like someone who was living a very different life than nowadays. She invites us into her house, brings in some chairs and we sit down to talk.
Clotide is a former prostitude and stopped in 2008. For 18 years, since her 20th birthday, she worked as a prostitude for soldiers, students and other people. She got HIV beside other disaeses in the first year of doing it, got pregnant three times from men who never became part of the family. She got beaten and pushed out by her family that had adoped her as a child. Her voice is low while she is talking about all this and her eyes look sad and painful. It was never the life she chose to live but it felt like the only option. With living in a very poor family that never accepted her as their real child. With the hope for a bit more than what she was living in. It were hard years, raising up her childs without a father, she says. But then there is this glimmer in her eyes, this happiness to now have the chance for a different life.
She stopped prostitution after 18 years, moved to another area, another house, started to work in a brig factory five days a week. She became part of the Medsar project SPAC (Stop Prostitution Around Campus) and helped develop it. They founded a association for the women and she became the president. They now produce baskets and plant a field beside their normal work. When she is talking about it, she is smiling, reliefed and happy. “My situation is not bad”, she says. Her children can go to school, she finds support in the community and she gets no longer stigmatized. She has some goats and rabbits now. When the situation got better, she adopted another child, a older boy. But he stole all the rabbits beside one and went away. Shortly after she adopted Ignace, another boy, who is now part of the family.
Clotide is waving again with a big smile as we leave her again. She seems confident and happy with her life, proud on what she has achieved. And she is telling us a little lesson in what is possible when you do not stop believing in yourself.