Gers Ace's Girlfriend Helps the Raped and Tortured Women of Africa; EXCLUSIVE SHE FLED HER WAR-TORN HOME NOW TATIANA WANTS TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK

Article excerpt

Byline: By Annie Brown

WHEN Tatiana Ramay decided to help women desolated by civil war in Africa, it was a decision that came from the heart.

The girlfriend of Rangers star Daniel Cousin was forced to flee her home in Burundi after ethnic violence erupted into civil war in 1994.

Tatiana, 26, who now lives in Glasgow, helped found Sunshine Revelation, a charity to help women abused, raped and mutilated by war in Africa, from the Congo to Rwanda and from Sierra Leone to Burundi.

She said:"I know how lucky I am to be here. I hear about the women who have been raped and tortured and think that could have been me. I am happy and healthy and it is important that I give something back."

Tatiana is a successful model, she is pregnant and living with a millionaire striker, but she has no intention of being just another pampered WAG.

Born in Zaire to a white chemist father and a Rwandan mother, she moved to Paraguay and then to Burundi when she was eight and her parents separated.

Burundi is one of the poorest parts of Africa and like neighbouring Rwanda, has been plagued by ethnic tensions between the Tutsi and the Hutus.

While more than a million died in the genocide in Rwanda, another 300,000 were slaughtered in Burundi.

Tatiana's mother was left to bring up six children on her own, but they lived in relative comfort until the conflict deepened in 1994.

Tatiana had just turned 12 and was too naive to recognise the significance of the first caches of weapons being found in her school grounds.

But then came the terror as ethnic violence exploded beyond the school gates.

In her school, in the capital Bujumbura, the children huddled on their classroom floor, as gunfire raged outside.

Tatiana said: "It was frightening. We had to crawl along the ground and we could hear the shooting outside."

Soon it became too dangerous to go to school, but even at home there was no guarantee for her family's safety.

The water was cut off, food was scarce and from her home, Tatiana saw men and women being shot at as they tried to flee for their lives.

"You could see their fear," she said. "They just ran and ran, some of them threw themselves into ditches to get away.

"It was a hard time for everyone. We were lucky in many ways, but there was no running water and some days my mother would tell me that we only had enough food for one meal."

The militia broke into the home of Tatiana's friend and beat and raped her mother in front of her father.

The aunt of another friend was also raped.

As the violence escalated, Tatiana's family had no choice but to flee.

"It was hard, my mother was black with no European passport, so leaving was never going to be easy," she said.

The family split into small groups and Tatiana travelled with a friend of the family and her little brothers of 10 and eight.

They fled to Belgium and were granted asylum, but it was to be six months before her mother and siblings were able to join them.

"We left everything behind. We had nothing. The worst was being separated from my mother, seeing what was happening in Burundi and knowing she was still there," she said.

It was while Tatiana was at school that her modelling career took off and soon she was travelling to New York and Paris on shoots.

She met Daniel in New York and they have been together for a year. …