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"I am now able to see the positive side of life”

May 4th, 2022

Barbra and her three siblings have been in the care of her grandmother since she was 14 years old after her parents abandoned them. Being in class 8, she needed to continue with her education. One Sunday, she met a church elder (a 50 years old man) who agreed to pay her fees for her to pursue her secondary education. Little did she know that the helping hand from the man came with unexpected demands. For two years, the church elder took advantage of her vulnerable situation, rented different guest houses during school holidays and sexually exploited her.

Abandoned

Barbra was born in Kisumu County, Kenya. Her father never took the responsibility of taking care of the family because Barbra´s three younger siblings were born of different fathers. Her mother, on the other hand, abandoned them to go to Uganda in search of greener pastures. When Babra was 14 years old, she was forced together with her siblings to live with their grandmother who was very old and unable to take good care of all her grandchildren.

Unexpected turn of events

After completing her primary education, Barbra was full of joy hoping to join secondary school. Even with the life's storm she was going through, she hoped for a better life. During one of the church days, she met with one of the church elders (a 50 years old man) who agreed to pay all her secondary school fees.

Barbra knew her prayers had been answered. Little did she know that the scholarship she received came with unforeseen demands. For two years, the church elder used to pick her up from the boarding school and take her to a guest house during holidays and half-term breaks where she was exploited sexually. Thereafter, he would send Barbra to her grandmother with some household goods to support her siblings. To make matters worse, the man threatened to withdraw educational support if she told her grandmother what was going on. In 2019, Barbra couldn't bear it anymore. She fled to her aunt’s place in Malindi. When the grandmother heard the news, she instructed her aunt to send her back to Kisumu.

Tough life

Barbra was fed up with life and decided not to go back to school. She started looking for work and at the age of 16, she was employed as a house help. Sadly, her employer (in his late 30s) also took advantage of her and sexually exploited her. When her employer´s wife found out about this she started mistreating Barbra and was later thrown out of the house. 

In 2020, Barbra’s mother came back from Uganda and they relocated to Kilifi County, Kenya. Unfortunately, her mother never stayed at home as she was working in a hotel earning a salary of 51.28 Euros per month. Working for more than 17 hours a day, she barely spent time with her children. Occasionally, she would take three days without coming back home, making the children vulnerable and exposed to perpetrators. 

Being the eldest, Barbra had no choice but to look after her siblings and was forced to look for an alternative means to cater for the family needs. At 17 years old, she started to bring men into their house and sleep with them in exchange for money. She would get around 1.7 Euros to 4.2 Euros.

Identified and supported

Luckily in April 2021, thes Building a Future project team was conducting a beneficiary identification activity in the area. Barbra was identified by the project social workers through the support of a child protection volunteer.

She has been supported with guidance and counselling sessions with regular home visits done to ascertain her needs and progress.

Barbra has been trained on basic life skills, provided with dignity packs and she will be joining a vocational training institution to pursue computer and beauty therapy. 

She now attends basic computer classes in Malindi is generally very happy for the support she has received. She concluded by saying, “The project support I got has helped me in boosting my self-esteem and confidence to overcome my past and bounce back strongly. I am now able to see the positive side of life. ”

Learn more about the Building a Future project (Kenya)
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