GLIMPSES OF LIFE IN MADAGASCAR LIFE THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUNG WOMEN
In Madagascar, CARE worked with Nofy Nandrianina Noelisoa Rajernerson, a professional photographer who teaches at Akany Avoko Faravohitra, a residential rehabilitation center that provides young girls with second chances, life skills, a safe space, and support to deal with past traumas.
Nofy asked three of her students* to document life in the Center while telling their own stories.
Content warning: these pieces contain references to violence, loss, child abuse, and rape.
(*All names have been changed.)
“I am 14 years old. My mother died when I was five and I remember being very sad and then my father died when I was 10 — just as I was completing my final elementary school exams.
When my parents were alive, I was one of the best students in school, but when my mother died, I fell behind, and to make matters worse my classmates began to tease me because my mother was dead, and because they said my dad was disabled because he had a stroke that left his arm twisted.
After my father died, my grandparents raised me and my younger brother. We lived together with my aunt and uncle and their children, and this was when the problems began.
I loved my grandparents very much, but my uncle was always arguing with my brother and me. He accused us of damaging his belongings, or when something was lost, we were blamed. We were frequently beaten and verbally abused. He even kicked my brother out of the house three times, and I found him sleeping out on the streets.
At one point I was even hospitalized because I was always crying, and the doctor said I must have some sort of heart disease. It continued like this for three years. The third time my uncle kicked me out I decided to finally leave. I thought about sleeping in the streets, but that same day a boy I knew invited me to live with him and his family. While I was staying there, I ended up having a romance with the boy and from then onwards I didn’t study any more, instead I was doing the cooking and cleaning.
Eventually we argued, and I went to stay with another friend, and I ended up meeting another 17-year-old boy who then became my boyfriend. Two weeks after that I bumped into my cousin who tried to force me to go home. When I refused, she called the police, and we were all taken to the police station. From there I was transferred to the Avoko Center.
When I first arrived, I had to be carried in as I refused to enter. I only finally entered when Aunty Hanta asked me gently. In the beginning I was often planning to try and escape. But now I have no more thoughts of escaping and I am comfortable here. Here my life is better. We learn lots of different things like cooking, singing and handicrafts. We eat our fill and we even get snacks. My grandparents and my younger brother visit me often and they are always happy when they hear about my progress at the Center.
“I get on well with Aunty Hanta, she is a nice person and easy to talk to. I am always happy every time I see her. She is like my mother. There was a time I told her I would follow in her footsteps when I grow up and would like to create a Center to help people.
This photography training has been my favourite so far. I was so happy, and so was my family, when I told them how I was getting good at photography. Since the training, Aunty Hanta encourages us to take pictures of everything we do at the Center.
I have so many desires…I would like to be a flight attendant when I grow up because I love travelling. The photography training also made me think that I would like to be a professional photographer and take pictures of the places I visit and people I meet.”