Ndikumana’s whole life had focused on survival. Surviving the prejudice she faced due to dwarfism, surviving as a refugee fleeing violence and surviving resulting illnesses. She is now thriving as a female leader. This follows support from Cord which built her confidence, removed her fear of others and helped her to build relationships at home and in her community.
Ndikumana Patricia experienced discrimination from a young age on account of being a woman, and a dwarf. At school, in Burundi, she was verbally and physically abused. Instead of protecting her, teachers reinforced the prejudice.
When violence broke out in Burundi, she fled to a neighbouring country, but rather than finding a safe refuge, her trauma continued. She explained:
“As a refugee, I lived in Tanzania. Life was so difficult, and we experienced many problems such as hunger and homelessness. In addition, we had terrible hygiene and health problems.”
After giving birth to a still born child, her husband and his family completely deserted her. Ndikumana felt that she had no choice but to return to Burundi.
Back in Burundi, the prejudice and mistreatment continued. Ndikumana lost all her confidence. She feared leaving her house and meeting people. In addition to her mental health issues, her physical wellbeing deteriorated significantly. As she became increasingly ill, a flood caused extensive damage to her home. The destruction meant that it was impossible to prepare food and so Ndikumana and her second husband went for periods without eating. This put even more pressure on an already difficult relationship.
Eventually, hope came in the form of Cord’s work with returning refugees and their communities. The aim is to reduce tension and build peace, to provide practical help as well as social and psychological support. There is a particular emphasis on the most marginalised – women, children and the disabled.
Ndikumana saw the positive impact of the project in her community and wanted to be part of it. She knew that peaceful conflict resolution could help people feel integrated into their community. She also realised that it could help with the kind of domestic tension and marital difficulty that she was experiencing.
Thanks to Cord’s project, things have dramatically changed for Ndikumana, who said:
“The best thing about being part of this scheme is that I now live in harmony with my husband. We are no longer in conflict.”
And the way Ndikumana feels about herself could not be more different. She explained:
“This project helped me to be self-confident, I am no longer afraid of others due to my dwarfism. It has changed my life in the way I now consider my self-worth. Now the image I have about myself is different from the image I had before this project came. I trust myself and I see that I am a human being like anyone else, I have self-esteem; I see that I can contribute to my community’s development. Now, I am a leader of women in my village and this position helps me to feel more comfortable and act positively for myself and for others.”
Your support is helping people like Ndikumana, who face multiple barriers to success, have an opportunity to succeed and to support their communities.