Trafficked as a child, she can today look back without distress
My Grandma raised me in Kakamega. When I was in Primary School, she fell ill and could not provide for us anymore, so I went to Nairobi to look for a job. I went back every time I felt I had earned enough for my school fees and our basic needs.
If I could give advice to a girl in Kakamega with a sick relative today, it would be: Hang on. Persevere. And if things get really tough, seek help from the police or the Children‘s department. Don’t trust a random person, because not everyone has good intentions.
“I was promised 6000 Shillings”
So at my first job, I got kicked out by my employer after working for six months without any pay. I did not have the money to go back home to Kakamega and I slept in the streets for three days. This was my first time on the streets. I then met a lady who told me of an employment opportunity in a home. This would be my second job where I worked for four months. I was hired by someone who promised me 6000 Shillings, but only paid 1000 after the first month and then stopped paying me after. I was treated badly, contact with my Grandma limited to the employer’s timings and phone.
After four months, she got through to me and scolded me, “I took care of you, why are you not taking care of me?” That is when I went to the employer to ask for my pay. She said she had fed me and given me a place to sleep. She only gave me 500 Shilling and that I was to leave the next morning. That evening, the man of the house sent me to a shop, but he had already made ill plans. Because this is when he did the deed against me. I was helped by an old lady who found me after the incident and took me in. She was a stranger to me, but a good person. She took me to the hospital where they said I was okay. It was the old lady who noticed after some time and told me, “Unfortunately, you are pregnant. I am old, I cannot care for you and your unborn child.“
“We could not leave the compound and often, we went to bed hungry”
So I left her to live a second time on the streets. After a short time I met a so-said pastor, a man who was preaching in matatus. He looked like a really nice man on the outside, you’d never have guessed what he was doing. He took me home where he was living in 2 rooms with his wife, his daughters and seven girls he had taken in. After some time, one of the girls asked me, “Do you also have a day for the pastor?“ I had no idea what she was talking about. The pastor answered, “You are just lucky that you are pregnant, otherwise you’d have your day too.” This is when I learned he was taking turns sleeping with the girls. One of the girls was 13 years, and she was not the youngest.
He had instructed the guards that we were not allowed to leave the compound. We spent our days taking tea in the mornings and watching TV. When the pastor was in a good mood, he would bring us some rice in the evening. But often, we went to bed hungry. The only movement we had was to the bathroom on the compound. I felt I had no purpose to live.
When I met a neighbour, I asked her if she would take my baby after delivery, so that I could take my life. She convinced me to hold on and that things would change eventually.
“Suffering gave me the courage to escape”
When I was in labour pains, the pastor forbade me to leave the house. But that same neighbour met me when I came from the bathroom, noticed how much I was bleeding and took me to the hospital. The next day, I returned to the compound with my baby as I knew no-one in Nairobi and I did not know where else to go. By then, the neighbour had understood I would not get any help from the pastor. She sought advice from a lady who worked with community people and convinced me to escape that very same day and report to the police. She put pressure on the guards to let us go. I guess, all the suffering and pain gave me the courage to try the escape. But only one girl came with me. All the other girls refused. They said, “Why should we leave? Out there is nothing for us. You will only find frustration.” But the police were really nice. When they came to arrest the pastor, he yelled at them that he was a man of God and they would all burn in hell. Yet they took him to prison.
“Today, I am happy”
That same day I arrived at the HAART shelter, with my one-day-old baby. I was 17 then. Today, I am in a much better place, mentally, physically, and financially. I can look back without distress. I went for counseling. I have done economic empowerment training and got support to set up and run my own business. I decided not to return to Kakamega, instead, I chose to live in a place near Nairobi where my business took off well. I enjoy my work, I earn enough to support my Grandma and to provide for my child and myself. I am happy.“