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"I decided to ask for help"

March 10th, 2020

Hadija is only 18 years old and has already had a hard life. It needs to be different, she thought. "Hadija came to us for help to get out of prostitution," says social worker Grace. "It's a process of trial and error, yet I have every confidence in her future."

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"I come from a strict religious family and was a model child until I was an adolescent. My father works on contract in the Middle East and is therefore hardly at home - we only see him every 1 or 2 years. Influenced by wrong friends, I started rebelling as a teenager. They taught me to sell my body for money. I stayed away from home for days, and no matter what my parents tried, I was beyond reason."

14-year-old bride

When she was fourteen, Hadija told her parents that she had found a man who wanted to marry her. "My parents agreed, hoping that I would finally settle down. I quit school. My marriage didn't last long, because after a month my husband went to the Middle East, looking for work. I went back to live with my parents, but I couldn't stand it. So I moved to a room of my own, in another village. My husband didn't want to know anything more about me, and we got divorced. In order to survive financially, I slept with men for money. After two years, I felt like I was wasting my life. All those men, and none of them brought me any further. I decided to ask for help."

Intensive guidance

"Hadija came to us by herself last time," says Grace Marura, social worker at Terre des Hommes partner Kesho Kenya. "She was only seventeen, but she had been selling her body for sex for years. She was looking for help to stop that. Since then I supervise her intensively, I see her at least once every two weeks. At the intake she briefly told me her history. This was followed by a medical examination." Together Hadija and Grace made a concrete aid plan and plan for the future. "She is still fickle - first she wanted to go to hairdressing school, then she decided to finish high school after all. Unfortunately, she didn't last long because she didn't find a social connection due to the age difference".

Real go-getter

In the course of time, Hadija has become more and more open about her life. Grace: "I try to guide her in processing her past, but there is one part where she doesn't allow me. I suspect she has a much more severe trauma than what she has shown me. I am now working on a referral for psychological help. After that Hadija will start hairdressing training. Even though Halima's trajectory is one of trial and error, I have great confidence in her future. She is proactive, and a real go-getter - someone you don't easily overlook. I'm sure she'll be the best hairdresser in the region in a few years' time - she'll be there." 

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