Yolanda is 35 years old, and divorced from her husband after suffering years of domestic violence. She is the mother of three beautiful children ages 14, 10 and 3 and currently she is the Director of ActionAid anti-violence center in Marracuene: she is happy to be able to help women in difficulty, because, as she told us, "We women are one and we must be united ".
Her marriage lasted 8 years. During those years her ex-husband abused and beat her because he didn't want her to study: "every time I insisted on going to school, he beat me".
After 8 years of violence, Yolanda decided to divorce her husband as she could no longer endure the abuse. Her ex-husband refused to sign the divorce papers because of the division of property. In order to get out of the marriage she had to leave everything she owned and fled with her three traumatized children.
Yolanda found refuge at the center of ActionAid and tried to start a new life. It was not easy to start over as a divorced mother, as it is not easy to be a divorced mother in Mozambique.
Despite incredible hardship, Yolanda is happy. She is finally free, no one abuses her and she can dedicate herself to her children. She told us: "Every day I try to give all the love I am capable of to my children to help them overcome this trauma".
Yolanda is making her big dream come true: building a house for herself and her children, a simple place to feel safe. In addition to building her home, she has another great dream: to be able to help all the women who experience violence in her community and to support them in denouncing and overcoming the violence they suffered.
As director of the ActionAid anti-violence center and as a woman who has suffered violence for years, Yolanda understands the needs of 8 out of 10 Mozambican women who suffer violence every day. What is needed is a safe place where women can stay overnight when they don't want to go home to an abusive husbands, social workers who support the women, so that they do not become discouraged and find the strength to go on and do everything possible to get out of their situation, and police officers to be able to report the violence in time and have the criminals answer for their actions.
Helping women need is an immense privilege for Yolanda, indeed, it is her mission. She shared her thoughts with us: " Today I want no woman to be in my condition, but that each of them receive the help they deserve, can get rid of those who hurt them and can hope again for a better life."