Family poverty: Jana’s story

Photo: illustrative photo, Lubomír Kotek, Caritas Czech Republic

Jana is a young woman from west Bohemia. She had a dream of working as a chef in a spa hotel, so she went to a college specialised in chef trainings. At the time, Jana met a partner on a social website. He was funny and she liked him a lot. Things moved on very quickly and they married four months after they first met. Very soon after the wedding their first daughter was born and later on a son with mental health problems.

One day my husband lost his job. He started to drink more and I became a victim of his anger. Then I discovered that he was cheating on me with another woman.

I put all my strength and efforts towards saving our family. My father-in-law taught me how to make baskets and whips that I sold in the city, 14km away. But I didn’t make enough money to cover all our needs, so I felt pressured to take a loan from this private company. In the meantime, my husband’s behaviour was just getting worse. The fights and abuse at home were far over the line.

I couldn’t manage all the expenses, so I requested some support from Caritas to help me cover some school expenses for my children. After some time, Caritas’ social workers noticed that I was still struggling. As time passed, I trusted them enough to share with them the details about my reality at home: abuse, humiliation, bullying and hitting by my husband.

I was too proud and too scared at the same time. So I didn’t talk to anyone about what was happing to me. Until the day my husband lost it completely and threatened to kill me. He hit me with a chair on the head. I suddenly realised that I had to leave. And I did. I took the children with me and went to Caritas.

They helped me and inspired me to take control of my life. With their support and counseling I managed to re-organise my life and move on. I divorced from my husband, I found a new flat for me and the children, I got a temporary job in a ceramic company, I met new friends… Caritas pulled me out of the mud. Without their quick help, maybe I even wouldn’t be here at this moment.

Despite everything I went through, I decided to forgive my husband. He passed away last summer and during his funeral we read the passage from Pauline Epistle to the Corinthians about love. As strange as it might sound, I was still in love with him. I forgave him for the bad things he did to me. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it felt right and it let the anger that was within me vanish.

Now my main struggle is to make ends meet every month. Since the death of my ex-husband, I am now responsible for paying back the debt we have in both our names. The amount is big: 250,000 Czech krona. I want to pay it back, but right now I just can’t. I don’t have a job at this moment and I have to take care of my son. His disability requires special attention and time.

I have Caritas and I have friends. They help me very much, but there are things I have to do on my own, like finding a job. I would like to work in a manual production section of a factory.


Photo: illustrative photo, Lubomír Kotek, Caritas Czech Republic

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