My name is Jane. I am 27 years old and a single mother of 2. My story is about a transition from a cloudy and dark past when I depended on other people and trusted them with my life to the current status where I am now in charge of my life. My troubles began early in my life when my parents separated after a prolonged period of difficult family relations. His departure did not bring peace; instead, it pushed my family into poverty. My mother and the three of us started going hungry and missing out on education.
I was lucky to have completed primary school but that was it. So I started engaging in casual labour as a teenager to support my mother and my siblings. Being young and naïve I got pregnant before I was twenty years which escalated my suffering. When my son was still very young my mother kicked me out of the house telling me that I should give her room to cater for my siblings. I tried reaching out to my father to narrate my story but he clearly told me that he had nothing to offer. A friend who was also a young mother accepted to host me and my son and we both struggled to eke out a living in the hostile slum.
In the process of looking for a job, I met another man who gave me false hope and got me pregnant again. It hit me so hard that I contemplated abortion but my friend helped me to cope. While still pregnant, I secured a job as a barmaid where I met another man with a promise of all the goodies I needed to transform my life; a husband, a home, an income…. The disease of dependency was in me. I could not resist the temptation. I went to live with him first as a house help than as a wife but it did not last long. He became abusive to me and my son. My son suffered so many traumas that his school performance dropped significantly and he became withdrawn. My health also went down so much that it affected my second pregnancy leading to the delivery of a son with cerebral palsy.
At this point, I knew I needed help. I talked to a friend who took me to St. Martin’s Bega Kwa Bega office where I underwent a series of counselling sessions and was connected with a volunteer who journeyed with me. My little baby was also assessed for support by the St. Martin’s programme for persons with disabilities. When my man showed clear signs that I could not live with him, I was able to make the final decision and leave. Though he continued to pursue me with physical and verbal abuse wherever he met me, the programme intervened to have the man warned against that behaviour.
It wasn’t difficult to start a new life because I had the social and emotional support of the volunteer. She also moved the community to support me in starting an independent life. I got food, household items and startup capital to establish a small fruit-selling business in town. That step towards an independent life was very crucial. It brought happiness back into my family and gave me a sense of dignity and self-worth. I have no words to say thank you to all those who have walked with me.