Last week 11 October we celebrated the International Day of the Girl child also known as “Day of the girl” which was first celebrated in 2012. The day recognizes rights and unique challenges girls face from all over the world and promotes the empowerment and fulfillment of human rights by addressing challenges, biases, dangers, and injustices young girls deal with. Unscripted and unstoppable was the theme this year. Today I want to celebrate achievements by, with and for girls at our safe house.
Our little Olmuranis (warriors) are among the bravest girls I have come across in my lifetime. Some of them have no idea that they are strong and brave to have come this far because many are too young to even understand what exactly happened to them. Our work is to try and create new memories that will overcome the bad that was forced to them by either those they loved or by total strangers. Every single one of our them carries weighty testimonies. Their journey has been marked with tears, confusion, anger, paralyzing fear, worries, pain and even blood. As we celebrated the unstoppable girls, I could not help but take time to remember each of their cases in detail as tears flowed freely down my face. Not tears of resignation but warm tears of victory just remembering how far they have come and how much further they are going. I can attest to this because it is evident that their little hearts pump with so much life and hope for a better tomorrow. They have defied the odds of medical science baffling the verdict of many doctors.
I celebrate each one of them today, those still at the safe house and those that have already graduated and been reintegrated back to the society. Today, I want to zero in on one of my warriors and for security purposes, I will change her name and other characters involved. Nancy, our beautiful warrior was 14 years old. (This was when we used to admit girls at the safe house from 18 years and below. We later realized to avoid bullying amongst other things, we must separate children and teens. So, currently we are working on phase 2, having a teens safe house for sexual abuse. Currently we have 12-year old’s and below.) Nancy was a very quiet girl, we used to call her the Pastor of the house because she loved long adorning in long dresses. She never agreed to wear a pair of pants unless she was going to sleep. She loved her bible so much, quietly reading it in her usual corner of the home and hated leaving her bed. Nancy suffered a horrific a triple tragedy.
One evening after school the mother sent her to the grandmother’s house, which was not too far from them. Her only instruction was to take the grandmother some food. It was around 5 pm. Together with her sister whom we will call Anna, they set out with excitement as they loved anytime spent with their grandmother even if for a short while. On their way back they were accosted by two boys, but her sister managed to outrun the boys, but Nancy was not too lucky. They held her and dragged her to a nearby bush and both raped her senseless. When the sister reached home, she went to the cow shed and hid herself there, she was 12 then. Nancy was raped by both boys and they pushed a bottle in her, left her bleeding profusely. Nancy dragged her bloody body across the dusty road just before it was dark since she could not walk until she got to the gate of their compound. Their dog was the first one to sound the alarm. She barked, loudly and managed to get the attention of the father who went out to check what was happening. When he saw his daughter covered in much blood, he walked away, went to the house and asked the wife to go out and find out what is wrong with her daughter. The mother came out running and immediately she saw her daughter, her stomach curled in pain with deep contractions of childbirth. She knew instantly something is wrong. She started screaming, crying on top of her lungs asking her daughter what happened. Nancy was quiet.
Villagers came out to see what was going on and women started screaming while crying. Nancy’s mother remembered where Anna, her other daughter, she asked Nancy, but Nancy was not responding. Running up and down without thinking of what to do next, the area chief came and asked women to cover Nancy and carry her to the nearby clinic. Nancy’s dad had left to go and drink from the local brew. The farm boy came running saying Anna was in the cow shed. When asked what happened, in tears, she kept saying, “they will kill us all”, repeatedly she kept saying this as she was covering her face. The mother in misplaced anger shouted at her saying, instead of fighting for your sister, you ran away. If anything happens to her you will know who I am. She left following the women carrying Nancy to the clinic. At the clinic, the doctor said that Nancy needs urgent surgery and that could only be done at a better facility. Thank God the member of parliament of that area was living close to their home and news had gotten to him. He quickly ordered his driver to take Nancy to a referral hospital in Eldoret.
Together with a neighbor, they left for Eldoret and once in hospital, surgery was done, and Nancy’s long physical healing journey had just begun. One filled with many hospital visits, tears, a lot of pain and the worst of all, loss of will to be. She suffered PTSD due to the barbaric ordeal and her mind just shut down. She never talked about the incident and most of the time, she was quiet and distant. Doctors tried all they could, therapists tried all they could, but Nancy was alive but not with us. Her mind travelled to an unreachable place. Back at home Anna went missing again. Villagers had misplaced anger as well with a child who was only 12, confused and afraid. A girl who believed her silence will ensure her family stays alive and she obeyed the command of the oppressor which was issued with intimidation and threat. Their dad came back sometime in the night, only to learn exactly what had happened to their first-born daughter, Nancy. He was drunk and all he said was, he thought her periods had come and that is why he called the wife to take care of her daughter.
In the morning, the second tragedy hit this family, Anna committed suicide because she was overwhelmed with the guilt of leaving her sisters to those cruel boys. A neighbor coming to the homestead to buy milk was the one who found her dangling body behind the cow shed. When news reached the mother, her blood pressure shot up immediately and she had to be admitted in hospital. She was guilt stricken with the idea that she was responsible for sending her daughter to the noose. Her tears were hot and uncontrollable. Her pain was real and tangible. She cried with no care as she kept saying, she was only angry, when she uttered those words and that she didn’t mean to harm her little baby. She called her name, she asked for her to come back, but it was too late. Anna was gone and she was not coming back.
The days that followed Nancy started regaining strength and so did the mother. Thank God Nancy’s surgery was successful but lit left her with a permanent limp. The bottle that was inserted in her had caused irreversible damage. They were both released from hospital at different times as the funeral arrangements were going on. The father never visited the daughter in hospital, claiming it is taboo. Once home, he asked the wife to take Nancy to stay with her sister the aunt. The wife refused, saying this is her daughter and she needs to watch over her. Once Anna was buried, the third tragedy struck. The father chased Nancy together with the mother away from the homestead. The mother one morning was homeless, wounded, lost a child, angry and hopeless.
This was the point of my introduction to this family. A social worker got in touch with me and narrated their ordeal. Without a thought, I asked them to come to me, I just wanted to hold them in my hands and together with my wonderful team, do what needs to be done in trying to get their lives back to normal. We organized their transportation and they came to our safe home. After settling Nancy in, we looked for a house for the mother and organized for her to get counselling and a way to be empowered financially in order to start the long journey of living a fulfilled life once again.
Nancy came broken and mute. She remained silent for a long time. Slowly, she realized it is safe at the home, love was evident and given fully. We did not rush her to talk but we made sure she knows when she will be ready to talk, we will be there to listen. Thankfully that day came after 5 months and it came with no tear just questions upon questions. Questions that neither of us in the team had the right answers, but we vowed we will walk with her with the help of God. Her favorite time was during devotions, her face lit up during these moments as she enjoyed the fellowship. She volunteered to lead the other warriors in worship almost on a daily basis and so we knew one of her entry places will be music and we maximized on it.
As I celebrate my Olmuranis, I lift a praise to God seeing how far Nancy has come. She fought through it all. She misses Anna and the dad who still refuses to communicate with them, but she found love in our heavenly Father. Nancy went back to school after 10 months out of school and she encourages other survivors as they journey in their warrior paths in support group sessions. Her best encouragement is “Never try to look for tomorrow in today, patiently work through today even if it is long, allow tomorrow to come with everything it has for you”.
These warriors are truly Unscripted and unstoppable. Nancy cannot be stopped, she has seen the worst, tasted the worst, been in the worst. Unstoppable is what she is and all other rape survivors.
See you next week for another Warrior Wednesday