Our Self-Help Group meets with women in an impoverished area outside the city. The project is impacting the lives of individual women as they learn to trust one another enough to share their stories and get support from the women in their group. Gulya* and Ainara* are two such women.
Gulya had a very unhappy marriage; her husband was unfaithful to her and he drank heavily and beat her. She fled from the city they were living in with her twin boys and arrived in this area with next to nothing.
When she first came to the self-help group meeting, she was depressed and suicidal.
“It was only because I can’t leave my sons that I didn’t kill myself,” she says.
At the center where the self-help group meets, she was given clothes for her boys and she was overwhelmed by the first bit of kindness she has been shown in a very long time.
Now Gulya says, “Here in our self-help group we are communicating with each other. We are supporting one another. They encourage me to look after myself and respect myself. I am hearing for the first time that I am valuable. I am starting to have hope, I am starting to have joy. I am starting to like myself and I want to live!”
Ainara had a tremulous relationship with her husband, he drank heavily, and they fought a lot. They lived with his parents and her father in law made advances to commit adultery with her and she was terrified of him.
Ainara often tried to return to her parents’ home when she feared for the safety of her two children and herself, but each time her parents would tell her to stop bringing shame on the family and to return to her husband. Eventually her father realized her desperation and allowed her to stay.
Now she is living with her parents and her husband stays in another city.
Ainara says that after attending some of the self-help group lessons she understands what has been wrong with her life. When she was still living with her husband, her mother in law completely controlled the family. Her mother in law told her husband what to do and she took all the money he earned. Ainara never had any money for looking after her children. “I was a slave” she says with tears in her eyes.
Ainara and Gulya are finding support and belonging through sharing their stories and pain with their self-help group and hearing the stories and struggles of others.
* Names changed