Domitria Nyirasoni is on her own because she was only able to bear her husband one child and he wanted more. “He never said out loud that was the problem, but I think that’s why he left.”
He went to live with a new wife on the other side of the valley. She had to move back home. “I was not in a good way. I had to be taken care of. I knew it was going to be hard for me because I was on my own.” Domitria lived with her mother (her father died when she was 15) and daughter. “Then my mother died, and my child grew up and left home.”
Now, all the jobs that are normally shared by a family are undertaken by Domitria alone. Such as the backbreaking work of farming beans and sweet potatoes. But recent developments have certainly lightened the load. First, the community came together to renovate her home with whitewashed walls and a corrugated iron roof. “Then someone from the village said, ‘You need a toilet.’” Her previous one, an ancient relic, has fallen into disrepair.
Domitria bought the mud bricks; her neighbours dug the hole and donated wood for the floor; metal sheeting for the roof. Her toilet now stands by her vegetable patch which is thick with bushy green beans.
“It’s really good,” she says, explaining how she takes care of her toilet by keeping it clean and replacing the timber flooring when it gets rotten. “Defecating in open spaces is ugly,” she says. But still, the house is empty and Domitria spends much of her time alone. “Sometimes I am lonely,” she admits. But again, the community has stepped in. Andre Munyemana, the village leader, recently gave her a radio. “I could see she needed news,” he says. She was also given a young cow, as part of the Government’s One Cow per Poor Family Programme.
Domitria, who goes to church every day, puts her good fortune down to divine intervention - “recently, God has been very nice to me” - but also credits another powerful presence. “I am really happy I have Jesus and President Kagame in my life,” she says.
1/5 Toilet belonging to Domitria.
“I am really happy I have Jesus and President Kagame in my life.”
2/5 Domitria goes to church everyday, but puts her good fortune down to more than just divine intervention.
3/5 Domitria Nyirasoni is divorced and lives on her own. She has a grown-up daughter, Virginie.
4/5 Domitria farms beans and sweet potatoes, usually doing the backbreaking work alone.