Shortly before 7 am, after having washed and dressed his two young children, Innocent gives them a few reminders before they head off to school.
Then he helps his wife Wyvine light a fire to heat up a pot full of water to cook cassava all day in order to make some chikwange. He also goes along with her to work in the fields to plant cassava cuttings and gather wood.
From the theatre to behaviour change
About a year and a half ago, a theatre group from the Communauté des Amis de la Nature et de la Culture (CANACU) (Community of Friends of Nature and Culture), a UNICEF partner NGO, came to Bonkulu, a village some thirty kilometers from Bandundu, in the province of Kwilu. Its goal was to create awareness among the population about the importance of men and women sharing tasks for the well-being of the family.
Wyvine, who took part in discussion groups which have beens conducted by the same organization since January 2014, invited her husband to the play.
“One of the characters is a man who neglected his family and spent the household money on alcohol and women“, she said. “My husband identified with that character who was being ridiculed and decided to change“.
Men and women sharing tasks : a new family dynamic
Later in the day, Innocent goes to fetch water from the water pump on his bike, something he has never done.
That night, after he is finished helping his wife to peel the leaves off the cassava plants, he helps the children with their homework.
“God helped me to see“, he says. “Up to now, I never gave my wife money. When I had any money, I would hide it and go out at night and have beer with my friends. If I loved another woman, I would give her my money. So the money went to her to feed her children and not mine! My own wife and children starved at home! I had bills, but I wasn’t able to pay them. With that kind of life, it’s just one misery after another, and friends disappear. As long as you’re having fun, you don’t think of these things until trouble hits. Now I am a lot happier since there are fewer problems. I manage the money with my wife and we discuss things together“.
Education, health and hygiene are new priorities
During the day, Innocent manages to sell 10,000 francs (about $10) worth of bananas. That evening, the couple sit down and decide to take part of the money to pay off some of their children’s school fees, and put some away in their “black box” for any future medical expenses.
With the remaining amount, Wyvine plans to go to Bandundu the next day to buy soap and salt, and while there try to sell her chikwange at the market. She will go by motorbike in the morning. Prior to that, she walked for a more than 14 hour return trip carrying a heavy sack on her back.
“I would leave the house at midnight and arrive at the market in the morning, and come back during the night totally exhausted! “, she recalls. ” I used to make my husband call me “the Suffering Mom” ! We fought a lot. Now, instead of walking out, my husband calms himself down and takes the time to talk over our problems“.
Photo report by Gwenn Dubouthoumieu (2016)
Translated from French by Marguerite McMillan
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu s’est intéressé à la photographie alors qu’il travaillait en Afrique pour des ONG humanitaires. Professionnel depuis avril 2010, son travail est régulièrement récompensé. Il travaille régulièrement pour UNICEF RDC en tant que consultant photographique.
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu became interested in photography while working in Africa for humanitarian NGOs. Professional since 2010, his work is regularly rewarded. He's a photography consultant for UNICEF DRC.
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