When I watched her walk down the isle last month, I knew Janet Kanini’s story was one worth telling. Her beautiful smile made memories of our difficult past fade away for a moment. Hers is a story of courage and determination.
Four years ago, we had rented rooms in Mathare slums, Nairobi while attending a journalism college in the city. One night at around 11pm, Kanini knocked at my iron sheet door crying. When I opened the door, I found her standing outside with not a piece of cloth on her. She was bleeding all over the body. I took her in and tried to comfort her but she was inconsolable. She told me she had left her room to go ease herself at the community latrines about 200 metres away when she was accosted by six thugs. They took her to an infamous valley locally known as Kosovo and raped her repeatedly. They then abandoned her there, taking her clothes with them. Kanini had to wade through the luckily deserted streets to find her way back home.
I called neighbours and we took her to Nairobi Women’s Hospital where she received emergency treatment and was put through a counselling programme. Despite the counselling, the following months were trying for her. She hardly spoke, but I understood her anguish. We couldn’t go back to Mathare because it brought back the bad memories. We had to seek for funds to pay for accommodation at the college.
Her experience must have taught her tough lessons about life and she gradually started appreciating the little life offered. With the positive attitude, she has been able to take on a video- editing job and even start a family.
Many women in Mathare and other slums in the city are going through similar ordeals every day. Amnesty International in fact launched a report in Nairobi in July 7 revealing the insecurities women face in the slums because of lack of enough toilets. During my stay at the slum, I had to use a bucket if I felt the need to ease myself at night.
But that is not the story I want to tell. Agonising stories of life in the slums have been told and retold. But I have always wanted to tell stories that give me hope and courage. I’ve been in the media for long enough to know that stories such as Kanini’s can’t make headlines. A story about a random slum girl who recovers from rape in a non-story to most editors. I found out about Pulsewire through the Association of Media Women in Kenya and knew right then that I had got a platform to tell my stories of hope and determination. The world will get to hear the unheard voices of hope from the slums and other areas thanks to Pulsewire.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.