When I was thirteen years old my parents had financial strains. My father had just lost his job a few years ago and my mother’s retail shop could not sustain us. We barely had enough to eat but my parents are firm believers of education. They tried their best even when we had nothing to make sure that we got to school.
I was in a boarding school in a rural area, and although it was expensive, my father insisted that I stay in that specific school. At that time I had an uncle who was living in a town close to where my school was located. My father felt that it was better for my uncle to take me to school since he was in Nairobi and was heading home anyway. He gave my uncle my school fees and took all that he had to do my shopping. I remember leaving home with tears rolling down my face because I knew that my family was going to stay hungry because my father had given out everything that he had.
I did not like my uncle. My uncle had been molesting me for some time. Four years to be exact. I chose to go to boarding school to get away from the molestation. This mostly happened when he came to visit. My parents were not aware of it. Somehow, I always believed that there was something that I did to provoke what he was doing to me. This is why I was not looking forward to this trip but my consolation was that I was going back to school and in school I was safe.
However, he had other plans. When we got to his place, he said that he would take me to school on Monday. This meant that I only had the weekend to tolerate his presence. That was not so bad. The weekend turned into a week, a week turned into a month and eventually a year. A year that I still believe is the worst year of my life.
His children went to school while I stayed at home working in the home the whole day. I cleaned, cooked and was not allowed to talk to neighbours. This was torture but the nightmare came each time the sun went down and it grew dark. I slept alone under the stairs, while everybody else slept in the bedroom. In the middle of the night, he always came and everyday he touched me, abused me and reminded me that I had no one that could help me. Initially I cried but after a while I discovered my tears were not going to bring a hero to come and rescue me. Therefore, each night when he came, I simply sat still and felt his hands on me, smelt his breath and heard him moan. My mind simply went blank in those moments. It was easier that way.
I barely ate during that time. I barely spoke to my cousins who seemed happy. I felt like we lived in different worlds, yet we were the same age. I thought of running away but where would I escape to? My parents could barely feed themselves and they thought I was in school. Who would ever believe me if I told them that my uncle was doing these things? I thought of suicide once. I also thought that my body would simply get exhausted and give up at some point. After all, human beings can only handle a certain amount of pain.
One day, they had an urgent errand in the city center and I was the only one available. They had no choice but to send me. I had never thought of what I could do if I got the opportunity to leave that house but finally I was out. I could run if I wanted to but I had no money and no idea where I could run to because I was far from home. When I was just about to walk back to my uncle’s place, I ran into my mother’s friend. She could not recognize me but I recognized her, and I remember I simply broke down and cried. It was the first time I had cried in months. I explained to her that my uncle did not take me to school and my parents needed to know. She promised me that she would relay the information to my mother the same day because she was flying back to Nairobi. When I went to my uncle’s place that night I never said anything so I would not get into trouble.
Early the next morning my mother arrived to pick me up. She did not speak to anyone. She held my hand and said it is time to go home. Never have I been that happy to go home. However, the pressing issue was whether it was wise for me to tell her everything. I tried to find words to tell her and my dad but eleven years later, I still haven’t found those words. Eleven years and sometimes the scars still feel like it was yesterday. The nightmares and the fear are still raw. I survived but I was broken and I still feel like I am broken.
I never thought my experience was human trafficking. Discovering it was has given me a fresh perspective on several things that could have been done to prevent it and even deal with the situation afterwards. I believe now that if I had been aware of certain things I would not have suffered that much without seeking help.