Tatiana Vivienne is the founder and Executive Director of Femmes Hommes Action Plus (FHAP), an organisation that supports women who escape from the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) to return and reintegrate into their communities. Since 2008, an estimated 7,600 people were abducted by the LRA in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tatianna Vivienne
Jjumba Martin/Conciliation Resources

When I was growing up on the edge of Bangui we were ten children – four girls and six boys. But I was very lucky. My father believed in education, so we were all educated.
 
I decided to found Femmes Hommes Action Plus (FHAP) because of the atrocities being committed by the LRA in my country, the Central African Republic. I decided to help the grassroots women who are helpless, whose voices are not being heard. When there is conflict, it is women and children that suffer the most. I decided to be the voice of the voiceless women.
 
Sometimes when women return home from captivity their husbands will not accept them. We work hard to make them understand that the woman is a victim, to accept the woman inside their hearts.
 
These women face social rejection by their own community. Many return helpless and traumatised from captivity. My organisation focuses on peacebuilding – helping the community to understand that these women are not responsible for what has happened to them. We work with social workers and religious leaders in the communities, through radio broadcasts and discussions.
 
I remember a community meeting in Obo where a woman with five children, who had been rejected by her husband and community, was accepted back. I’ve spent so much time with these communities – not blaming them, but understanding. 
 
My organisation is five years old now. Before I started this work I was not a good speaker, I used to be so shy. But now I can speak before anybody, if it means helping women and children affected by conflict. Now I speak on behalf of these women at a regional and an international level. 
 
I want more women to be empowered, like me, because there are problems everywhere in my country. We need powerful women that can work in peace and security and represent the grassroots community at an international level.