At a time when I thought my education had ended, I was selected as a beneficiary for a scholarship that puts girls in school to continue secondary school. I remember how the news of my scholarship sent my poor mother, who is a farmer, to loud cries that brought our neighbours to come and find out who has died that called for that loud cry. In my little tender voice, I told everyone who came in our little one room house that my mother was merely crying out of happiness that I will go to school and not that someone had died. And as we went to bed that night, my mother and I couldn't sleep, she advised me all night to take my education seriously. I was also determined to take my education seriously so that I can give my mother and younger ones a brighter future when I become the woman of my dreams. But the laughter that came with the award of scholarship almost turned to sadness when on several occasions, someone close to me, an uncle of over 50 years old kept harassing me for sex. This is how it all started.
When I was awarded the scholarship, my mum went and pleaded with one of my aunt who doubled as my God mother for me to live in her house and go to school because she was a very Godly woman, one whose children were all educated. I started living in the house happily, but my uncle, who was also living in the same house kept creeping into my room every night, asking me to have sex with him. Sometimes, he will follow me to the bathroom and push open the door as I bathe. Life which started happily in my God mother's house starting turning sour for me as the nightmare of having my uncle visit me during the day and at night with sexual advances affected my whole life. The worse thing about my God mother/aunt is that she travels all the time with her sick husband for medical rendez-vous and during those times, I was in hell with my uncle in the house.
My uncle started by telling me that I had nice breasts as he peeped into my blouse on one occasion as I bent down to mop the floor. I felt really embarrassed that day but he didn't stop. He would come and sit close to me and tell me that I am the woman of his dreams and he would want to have me as his wife. I started avoiding him, but he never stopped coming to where I tried to hide. On several occasions, he would embrace me tight and struggle to kiss me. At some other times, he would struggle to pull my pants down. The only thing that scared him all the time from sexually abusing me was the fact that I kept telling him that if he tries, I will tell my aunt. But the truth is, I never had the courage to tell him. Having such discussions with elders in my community is a kind of taboo and so even if I gathered the courage to tell my aunt, I will run short of words as I approach her. It has not been easy for the past two years that I have been in my aunt's house. I loved living there, I enjoyed everything about the way my aunt treated me and runs her house, the only thing I didn't like was the fact that my own uncle wanted to rape me and destroy me.
All is well that ends well. In August 2016, I picked the courage to call the woman who offered me scholarship and explained my predicament to her and behold, she talked with my mother and God mother and she finally sent me transport fare to come and spend holidays with her in another town which is over 500kms from where I lived with my God mother. I am glad because I did not only spend holidays, I am now living with her and attending school in my new town. I am happy and all I can think of is how my future would have been destroyed by a man I call uncle. I am sad because I know there are other girls who are facing the same situation but they don't have the voice and courage to tell someone. I have a dream, a very big one.
My dream is to study, become a leader and fight for the rights of girls who are being harassed and destroyed sexually by their own family members. I would encourage such girls to break the silence and be free. If I could, I would fast-forward time so that I will quickly graduate out of school and start my fight for girls. I am happy for myself today, but I am not happy for my fellow sisters/girls who have not found a safe haven like me.
My heart is bleeding for my sisters, but my dream for the future keeps me hopeful.