DR Congo has a culture of silence about rape. People who suffer sexual assault will keep it secret to avoid shame, pity, or disgrace from their communities. In doing so, they also carry the burden of blame.
The boys who attacked Talia stole her money when they raped her - money she was carrying to pay tuition and expenses at her school. It was a substantial sum for her family, so it wasn't easy to return home secretly traumatized to tell her family the money was lost. A few weeks later, she learned she was pregnant.
Talia's family sent her away in disgrace. At 15 years old, she found herself at the periphery of society, in shame, and completely alone. She had no skills to support herself, and no real hope for anything better.
She was in a dark and isolated place when she found HOLD, but the counselors were attentive and the community supported her. They made her feel safe. Soon, they became her second family - one she trusted for help and guidance. She entered the Culinary Arts Program, and soon was making flat breads to sell in her neighborhood as she walked to and from her classes. With a few big successes that gave her an income, she learned that she could take care of herself. She found acceptance in her new community and gradually built her self confidence.
Today, she is back with her family, and she earns money to support them! She feels respected and appreciated, and is a strong member of her community. She is also attending high school.
Talia regained her dignity and found a new set of skills. What might her future bring?