My mistakes will not define me..

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Alice* Speaking to me at the Bridge Centre, Mukuru Kwa Njenga

Alice* is totally set out to ashame those who ridicule her and those who do not believe in her. She says that her mistakes will not in any way define her. She has been through tough moments; moments that almost prompted her to take away her life. She is calm and quite friendly, but you’ll be mistaken to assume that she is soft..

Here is her story..

“My name is Alice* (Pseudo name). Iam 17 yeas old, a single mother to an eight month old baby boy. I got pregnant while in form 2.

My boyfriend disowned me plus my baby. He does not care about us.

I  am second last born of five children. I live in Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums. Life here is tough. My mother has no job. My father is a casual laborer. He makes very little money. He is therefore unable to fend for all of our needs -from food to education to shelter. 

I used to engage in sex with my boyfriend for money. He would buy me food, clothes and pads. When I got pregnant, my boyfriend took off. My mother was quite mad at me. Her constant bickering pushed me to the wall. Were it not for my merciful father, I would be dead right now! One day I had resolved to take my life away..

 I remember very well that night. I stood quietly at the banks of River Kimondo. Ready to take a dive. Something stopped me. I slouched down as though I was carrying a heavy load and started crying. I looked up to God in total adoration and asked him why he brought me to this cruel world. I wondered; Why should I bring a child to this tough and unfair world. If am unable to survive, what of my unborn baby. We would be better of dead together. The stupendous array of stars that dominated the sky gave me inner peace. I lay down, to calm down, to relax my swollen eyes… I didn’t care the danger that faced me… In any case I was useless. Why fret over death?

I was awakened  by garbage collectors, the following day. Who thought I was dead.. I woke up, and cursed why I was still alive. The already bright sun on the east  stung into my eyes. I staggered back home…feeling empty.

My attempts to abort my baby hit a dead end. The men I asked help from wanted sex in return. That meant I would have had to sleep with about 15men to raise money required for the abortion..KES 5,000!

Nine months later a baby was born. Life became even tougher. There was no money for hospital bill (KES5000, I was helped to birth by a traditional birth attendant). My dad really struggled to clear the bill. Still there was no food to feed the baby and no clothes for the baby. I felt really bad, I cried most nights. My baby cried and I cried along with him. It was a pathetic scene.

One day while sited hopelessly in the house. I was approached by a lady who introduced herself as a community facilitator working for DREAMs IC. She explained to me what they do . I was very curious to know more si I immediately followed her to their Centre located within my neighborhood. I left the Centre feeling quite hopeful. I shared the news with my father. He was happy about my decision and offered to give full support. 

I thank the DREAMs Innovation Challenge  Project. They accepted me plus my child. They have shown me unconditional love. They have provided for my baby’s essential needs, especially diapers. And most importantly, they have given me a second chance to life. I am through with the six month learning program. Come January, I will be enrolling back to school. My dad is willing to pay half of the tuition money, while DREAMs project will pay the rest. In addition DREAMs has given me a back to school starter pack containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, shoes, pads, panties, soap, a towel, books, pens, shoe polish and a brush. 

When I joined the Centre, my self esteem was really down, but now with the help of teachers and through sharing experiences with the other girls, am much more confident.

I am glad I can now pursue my dream of becoming a Human Rifhts Defender. In the slums, girls are mistreated and are also quite vulnerable . In future I will fight for their rights tooth and nail. For now I can only watch when am called names; prostitute, ugly, second hand, useless, fat girl! So many names that lay heavy in my heart.. I am slowly developing a thick skin..”

NB: Name changed to conceal the identity of the girl

About DREAMs IC

DREAMS Innovation Challenge is a project that was started with the understanding that in Kenya adolescent girls and women bear the the brunt of the HIV endemic, with females in the 15-24 age cohort accounting for21% of new infections (Kenya HIV Estimate Report 2014)

Low education attainment from dropping out of school is one of the factors that predispose girls and young women to the risk of getting HIV. This project targets adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24years who have dropped out of school and are from resource poor households who are at risk of early marriage, expectant or have children, community members of Siaya, (Sihay, Nyalenya) and Nairobi (Kangemi and Mukuru) as well as duty bearers, service providers who are responsible for supporting the participation of AGWYs in education and transition to secondary school.

The project dubbed ‘Keeping girls in School’ seeks to address the livelihood that girls and young women will drop out of school as a result of lack of support to effectively deal with gender related issues, specifically puberty, sexual reproductive health and HIV thus increasing their vulnerability to HIV.

Girl Child Network (GCN) is working in partnership with LVCT Health, Grow and Know, and Afrucan Voices Foundation under the coordination of Trocaire on the DREAMs IC Project in rural Siaya and the urban informal settlements of Nairobi to address the underlying access, enrollment and retention issues among girls in secondary school.

 

 

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