Our mission is to empower women by providing self-sustaining solutions that give hope and change lives. The women of African Women Rising have many stories and varied backgrounds, but with one common theme: survival. Now and then we like to profile women who work with us. Cecerina Labol, who cares for her daughter and her four children, is one such woman.
This is her story:
“I am about 65 years old. I don’t know my real age. I joined African Women Rising in 2011. I want to tell you about my life. I did not have a chance to go to school because my parents would not pay. They said, ‘The girl will spoil your money for nothing. They will go away and marry, and the money is wasted.’ My brothers were allowed to go to school. There was no option for women, it was the way of life and I did not object. I cannot read or write.
My father had two wives and many cows. I have 14 siblings. I was around 18 when I met my husband. I have nine children my youngest is 18. My husband died because he did not take care of himself. My husband was a drunkard. One time he fell when he was drunk and broke his leg. He did not take care of it and it became rotten. By the time he received care, he died from the infection.
Living in the camps for internally displaced people was very hard since I was alone to take care of the children. There was never enough food so we only ate once a day. My daughter was abducted and came back with one child. She stayed in the bush for nine years. Now, my daughter has four children and she is staying with me. She is HIV positive.
Being in a group is helping. I buy tomatoes and sell them at the market. I want to make sure I can help my daughter and make sure to send her children to school. I’m saving money for schools fees. My goal for the future is to educate my children. I want to buy an animal, like a goat, to keep as an investment. It is nice to be in a group, share problems and get help. The saving helps us. I take very small loans because I am not able to dig in the garden because of my age.”
Cecerina’s daughter was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. She was forced to live with the rebels for nine years. During this time she was raped repeatedly and forced to participate in combat. She managed to escape and returned to her mother, living in one of the camps for internally displaced people. As she did not have an education, skills or access to support, she was forced to do sex work to be able to survive. This is how she became infected by HIV.
Women like Cecerina’s daughter experience severe hardships as they return from abductions. Working together with African Women Rising she will move towards a better future for herself and her children.
Linda, and the African Women Rising team