How RICH gave us a second honeymoon 26years into marriage

Joseph Birukirakuvuga’s family once lived peacefully, always working together to develop their family. Birukirakuvuga and wife Nyiranzeyimana did everything possible to ensure harmony at home and it worked out until 2019 when their daughter was raped, impregnated and soon gave birth.

Birukirakuvuga married Nyiranzeyimana back in 1993. The joyful couple begot four children, unfortunately the firstborn died. They raised them well, and the family lived in harmoniousness and concord.

However, the harmony was disrupted in 2019. Their daughter Monique***, then aged 17, was defiled and impregnated. The two parents failed to agree on how to accompany the victim. Since then, the family always lived an unhappy life, domestic conflicts almost becoming synonymous with them.

“I first learnt that our daughter was skipping classes before she deserted completely. I was worried that she may have been kidnapped. When I followed it up, I found out, to my surprise, that she’s pregnant and my wife was aware. I was shocked,” says Birukirakuvuga.

“Finding out later that my wife was trying to help her covering the culprit made me raging,” adds the father of three by now.

Tensions spiraled to the hottest point that Nyiranzeyimana thought it was about her safety to leave. The couple parted ways. She deserted home to escape unceasing domestic conflict. She would cohabit with friends and family relatives in the neighborhood for some time.

“Before I left home, my husband had become very aggressive. We often quarreled and fought with my husband. Our family was hardly happy, it affected our lives and our children were neglected,” narrates Mrs Nyiranzeyimana.

Both spouses admit that they could not work together for the good of their family, leading to derailed development. It was not until the end of November 2019 when the agents of change from Rwanda Interfaith Council on health, a network of Rwandan faith-based organizations, reached out to them, initiating what would be a new chapter in their lives.

“I recall that we were scheduled to appear in a divorce hearing court session the following day when a local official took us to a conflict mitigation session with RICH agents,” says Birukirakuvuga. “They had invited us separately and they counselled us that the issues that divided our family could be addressed,” adds his wife joyfully. “They talked to us on different occasions and offered counseling sessions to us. Since then, we have started a transformational journey,” says Nyiranzeyimana with a smile on her face.

As the conversation keeps going on with the couple who seems to be in their fifty’s, Birukirakuvuga turns his face towards his wife and almost ignoring everyone around, he divulges to his wife “When you had left me, I felt lonely. All our friends would avoid me, none of them invited me to their party like before. I was a very disgruntled man.” His wife starts to release tears of joy. He then instantly takes her into his arms for a long intimate hug before he adds “I feel like RICH gave us a second honeymoon, my love.”

Later when we have left, Birukirakuvuga will call us and say “Now we live in harmony again, we work together as a family. I am optimistic that our lives will be better and no domestic violence will be heard in our family again.”

RICH, Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health, is a non-profit making organization that is involved in championing the participation of faith-based organizations in promoting health in Rwanda.

Claiming Social Reproductive Health in Rwanda (CSRHR), is a 4-year project aimed at creating awareness at local and national levels on GBV prevention and response, strengthening the capacities of Isange One Stop Centers for high quality provision of sexual and reproductive health services as well as empowering SGBV victims economically. The CSRHR project is implemented by the Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH) with the funding from the Scottish Government through OXFAM.