Pauline, Future Dressmaker

By Estelle Agboton and Serena Clayton

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Pauline’s plan to become a great dressmaker was something she could never have imagined when she was being beaten to “cure” her delusions and uncontrollable behavior. Born in 1994 in a small city in the north of Benin, Pauline was well-loved by her parents and five siblings. But due to illness and financial hardship, she dropped out of school in third grade and was sent to work as a servant in a family home. After a few years, the family accused her of robbery and sent her to a religious leader to force her to confess. precipitated a mental breakdown. She refused to speak, heard voices and became aggressive. The family sent Pauline back to her parents who took her to evangelical churches and fetish worshipers where she drank herbal teas and was beaten by healers, none of which seemed to help. Pauline’s condition worsened over the next several years until 2015 when her family learned about the work of St. Camille. They took Pauline to St. Camille’s dispensary in her home town where she was evaluated and given medication. Within two weeks, she was markedly improved. She then agreed to enter St. Camille’s residential program in Djougou where she became part of a supportive therapeutic community. She has now graduated to the rehabilitation center at Calavi where she is learning sewing and her plan to become a great dressmaker is within reach.

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