Friday, May 24, 2013

"It has happened to others before you.... "

By Grace Kossi, who is a young mother speaking of her experience as a 'child mother.

I am a young lady of 24 years, from a family of nine with four brother and two sisters.  My child was born when I was only 16 years of age, which caused me much misery, depression and frustration due to our cultural practice to make a girl an outcast, if she got pregnant before marriage.   I became a social misfit.

Grace with her daughter, Shalon, taken
today, May 25, 2013.

Because of my presence in my father’s home, he was no longer invited to attend meetings of elders or the community.  For my father, this was a negative judgment from the community and indicated that they had lost respect for my father, as he had not done the right thing and chased me from the house.   Life in my father’s home became harder and harder.  He was always angry, and my mother was always crying.

My mother remained forever hopeful for my success in life, because my father blamed her and accused her of destroying my life. Though the community blamed my father and my father blamed my mother, my beloved mother never blamed me.  She said, “It has happened to others before you, and God will help you out.”

As the days passed, stresses of all kinds surrounded my life.  I knew that I needed education to bring up my daughter, but it was all in vain.  As the stress grew, I developed ulcers that made me grow thinner and thinner until I reached 35kg (77 lb).

Grace has secured part-time work with Sauti Moja.
In a period of time between 2005 and 2006, I spent most days in bed due to sickness and depression.  During those days, I would dream a dream so sweet, but I didn’t understand it or take it seriously.  It was all about the success in my future.  First, I saw a tailoring machine, which was mine; second, I was on a computer typing; and third, I was in school.  The dream went on repeatedly until one day God opened the door of love, peace and prosperity.  A community-based organization, ‘Sauti Moja’, uplifted me from my life that I thought would never be good. 

Thanks to God, I am well again, and my daughter is a happy eight year old.  Although my daughter has been diagnosed with a hearing impairment, she is showing signs of improvement, since Sauti Moja arranged for a medical exam and hearing aids.  We continue to remain hopeful. 

Grace with her sponsor and
daughter, Shalon.
Today, I have completed Form 4 (Grade 12), Peace and Justice training, and completed a Certificate in Community Development and Social Work with the help of God and a Sauti Moja sponsor.  (Grace has expressed great appreciation for the support of the Anderson Family).  I am hoping to join a Diploma program in September.  My daughter and I are grateful for Sauti Moja and pray that God continues to bless their work and fulfill their mission of care and concern for poor and vulnerable widows and children.

Before, I was just nothing but an unwanted person in a community that would not recognize me.  Today,  I work part-time with Sauti Moja Marsabit and everyone is happy for my success!

I hope that one day I will be in a position to fight against demeaning cultural practices.  Every human-being has the right to live.  This is my advice to young ladies, “Life does not end when you have a pregnancy outside of marriage.  Avoid the situation as much as you can, but if it happens, don’t give up. Instead, pray that God will use well wishers or other means to secure your life.”

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