This is a story of woman who loved with all her heart and was sadly heart broken when her husband’s true colors were revealed in his country. She has asked me not to use her real name or her pictures as she is working on her travel documents and doesn’t want the process to be jeopardized.
I met Alysha a very witty and fun loving person to be around in 1992. She was a close friend of my mother and at that time we had gone to her house to pick a few items she had promised to give my mother as she was relocating to her husband’s country with their three handsome sons. My mother was very saddened and they spoke a lot in the language but it looked like she had made up her mind.
Alysha came to Uganda as a refugee from Ethiopia together with her elder sister who was part of a riot group in the 1960s. They sought refugee status and were able to go to school. Her elder sister went to nursing school while she joined a beauty school. She later met her husband who was from Togo but had just graduated from the United Kingdom and had just landed a big job as an expatriate in Uganda. It was love at first sight and she never looked back after that. She was living the life in the fast lane, taking summer holidays in Europe and her children were in the best international schools. Her husband opened for her a very big saloon in the middle of town and she made a lot of money. Life was good and they were admired by many people as the most loving couple.
In 1992 her husband’s contract expired and he decided that it was best if he returned home and opened up a pavers business. She didn’t hesitate because she loved her husband to bits and trusted that all would be well. Her friends and family discouraged her but she didn’t take heed. The last time I saw her was that day we went over to her home. After they left Uganda she phoned my mother about five times and we never heard from her again.
After law school I started working in a law firm and my mum called me and asked me to call a number she had got from one of her friends from Togo. When I called it was Alyshas husband who picked the phone and told me that she was well but I was not convinced. I called back later that night and he gave her the phone but she didn’t seem to be okay and couldn’t talk in his presence. It was frigentening for us because we were so many miles away from her and could not help her. We never heard from her again until 2002 when she sent my mum an email explaining her horror.
I remember my mother crying for almost a week and what was most hurting was the fact that she couldn’t be there for her. Alysha explained that as soon they landed in Togo her husband confiscated her passport and that is when the horror began. He stopped sleeping at home and for many days would not communicate where he was. She tried to talk to his mother and sisters but they shunned her claiming that she was a refugee in Uganda and was still a refugee in Togo so they had no right to help her. They told her that their brother was not fit to marry a refugee and they found him a Togolese woman.
He had started a business in Togo but was never around the office and so the workers robbed him till the business was run down. He had borrowed money from the bank to start up the business and so when the business run down the bank started looking for him to recover their money. The bank then seized their household items so that they could help them recover their money.
As if that was not enough she was kicked out of the house together with her kids due to lack of rent. Her kids were thrown out of school because of lack of school fees. These were children who were in international schools in Uganda and so now had to be put in Government schools where education was free. Teachers in the government schools taught in the local languages which languages the children did not understand. She slept on the streets with her children doing odd jobs to get money for food for her children.
After a year one of her husband’s friends called her to his office to find out how she was fairing and she just broke down and cried because no one had ever asked after her and the kids. He was saddened by the situation and immediately offered to pay fees for the first child who had dropped out of school in a vocational college and he employed him in his office. He also offered her one year’s rent and promised to get her clients and she was a very good interior designer. After all this suffering she was able to pull herself together and she has never looked back. She gets contracts for designing guest houses and people’s homes. Her last born has finally finished University while her first two sons got scholarships to study in the United States. She is now working on her passport so that she can travel and also visit her sons as well as get a breath of fresh air.
My mother was able to connect her to one of the employees of the Ethiopian Embassy and her passport is being worked on. Her story has taught me to be humility, despite being trampled on by her in-laws, she has never sought revenge and she has always prayed for her in-laws. She always told me in her emails that no situation in life is permanent. Her husband lost his business, the Togolese wife that he had married traditionally, lost his friends and is now reduced to a drunkard on the streets. She told me that she prayed every day to God and never gave up hope. She is thankful every day for the doors God has opened for her, and the many doors he is still opening for her and her boys.
Alyshas story is one of courage, hope, empowerment and success. I love her humility and dignity. She is my hero. This story teaches us that however much you push a woman to the wall, she will always bounce back. And when she bounces back she is much stronger than the first time. Everyone has a story to tell and every story is inspirational, and from each story we learn a lot about life. As women we designed to handle the toughest of situations and yet society will always point fingers at us when we stumble and fall, watching us from a distance to see how we get up and dust ourselves. As women we always get up and dust ourselves, it might a longer time for some but when we get up we never look back.
Be strong and always be there to help another sister get up, no matter how far they are from you. Speak out against gender based violence and womans rights. We need to fight for our sisters who have no voice. #Bethechange
This post was submitted in response to Speaking Out for Change.