STANDING WHEN EVERYONE EXPECTS YOU TO BE DOWN

Adede Owalla
Posted January 28, 2018 from Kenya
Adede
Adede at Rita Rose Sustainable Garden & Farm in Kisumu, Kenya

Born to a Dad who was a teacher and a hardworking Mum , my childhood was filled happiness, satisfaction and privileges that I never thought one day would go. I only dawned on me when Mum Died in 2003 and Dad followed a year later. By then I was in form two at Thurdibuoro Secondary School in Western Kenya, my elder sister was in form three and our last born Chris was in class two.

You see, I was brought up in a humble village on the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest fresh Water in the world, where the major economic activity is fishing and subsistence farming and my peers mastered the art of fishing at as early as 8 years old. My Dad was so strict on us that he wont even allow us to go to the lake, leave alone fishing. So after his death in 2014, we became complete "strangers" in the village.

First, we were drop out of school because no one was ready to pay our school fees and take care of us . My sister was taken by an aunt who promised to take her to school but eventually turned her to a house maid . Myself and my brother Chris moved to our grandmother's house. The grandmother was lame and couldn't provide food, so myself and my brother were to work and provide for her.

We would wake in the wee hours of the morning, collect firewood which we would sell to women who trade fish at Ksh 50 or less . At about 6:30 am, we would be in the lake begging for boat owners to allow us go with them fishing. My younger brother , at only nine was more active than me and the boat owners preferred him. At the end of the day we would get something to eat and buy our grandmother pain killers.

I escaped boat accident twice and during the last one, I saw two of my colleagues dying, one, the boat owner who was trying to get his trouser and his 13 year old son who tried to save him. It was quite traumatizing .

A day after the accident , I sold our bicycle and traveled to Nairobi , Bima House to process my Dad's pensions and Gratuity to allow us go back to school and being new in town , I was cornered by thugs who stole my shoes and my return bus fare. Luckily they left for me the documents. For two weeks, I was a street child in Nairobi feeding from market left overs at Muthurwa Market. All this time I was with my Dad's pension documents, I never lost even a receipt. Then one monday, I decided to go Parliament building to look for my area MP and share with him my problem. I was never allowed in, a watchman told me " we know your tricks you street children , you just want to have your way so that you can get in and beg the Members of Parliament" . I felt bad, tears fell from my eyes and another guard who was of the same tribe as myself noticed. He called me and interrogated me and funnily, we realized were coming from the same District, Kisumu and my Dad taught him about a decade ago.

He gave me Ksh 200 ( $2 ) to go and buy sandals, use the remaining to take tea and then come back . When I went back, he connected me to my area MP who paid for me bus fare, bought me new clothes and shoes and promised to help me process my Dad's benefits.

Now all the two years that myself and my brother were at home, not going to school, doing casual jobs, risking our lives to survive , there were several NGOs which were helping orphans in such situations but sadly they were dealing with girls. Some were just giving us empty promises that they'll consider us in there next OVC recruitment but it never happened. The situation was so stigmatizing that at a point , myself and my brother resorted to bang smoking in order to forget the difficulties we were facing in life in life and the mockery.

All these times , I never forget my books, at free time I would read and write though I had limited hopes with my education. I also enjoyed reading old newspapers, some at a point, while reading the Teen section of a local Daily Newspaper , The Daily Nation, I came across a nice story by my age mate (16 yr old boy) then after the story, there was this instruction " you can also submit your story to......." .

I wrote a story about ourselves and our situation and sent it through postal address to the editor . Luckily , my story was published three months later and through it, a catholic organization called Our Lady Of Perpetual Support for People Living With Aids And Orphans ( OLPS) traced us and came to our rescue. We were taken back to school and sadly, our grandma died a day later maybe because of Shock. My sister equally benefited and she joined Ahero Girls Secondary School that same year .

I sat my KCSE ( Kenya certificate of Secondary Education) in 2007 and later joined Egerton University for Education Course, I currently work with an org. Mama Hope International as a Global Advocate ( working on projects on Education & Agriculture) . My sister is also a teacher and my brother is in his final year in college, Applied Biology course.

Now, the society usually take the challenges facing the " boy child " as common and process of initiation to manhood, it isn't ! The "Boy Child " just as the girl child is equally vulnerable when exposed to certain harsh environment. They become easily lured to crime , drug abuse and even engagement in sexual activities that may affect their lives.

Before empowering the " Boy Child ", we should let them know, that our society today has turned into a forest. If you don't raise your voice, no one will know you are in and help you out . Even if he/she sees you are really in need, a bigger percentage will assume thinking you are on adventure.

This post was submitted in response to Bringing Up Boys .

Comments 8

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jlanghus
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

Hi Adede. Welcome to World Pulse:-) Sorry to hear about the passing our your parents at such a young age. Wow, that guard was definitely a guardian angel there for you... what an amazing story you have. You are very resourceful and determined. You make a very good, important point at the end that boys need as much structure, support and encouragement as girls do. Will you be a part of this new society of balance, support and love for future generations? Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

Adede Owalla
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

Thanks jlanghus for the encouragement,  I am part of this "effort" for the realization of new society balance, support and love for future generation and am proud of it. As a global advocate for Mama Hope, my work isn't only monitoring projects by partner organizations in East Africa but directly working Women and children in various communities in sectors of health ( reproductive health) , women empowerment, Education and organic farming . 

Currently I am directly involved in Psycho social support for children at Kisumu Children Center and my sure my support gives a certain degree of positive impact towards achieving that future that we are dreaming of . 

Thanks for welcoming me to Pulse World! I like the work that you people are doing to change the society for the better.

THANKS

jlanghus
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

Hi Adede. You're very welcome:) Awesome. I love that your a passionate advocate for an equal, balanced and supportive future for everyone. World Pulse is amazing. Do you know of Wanjala? You may be interested to see what work he is also doing in Kenya: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/coexistkenya

Adede Owalla
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

Hi jlanghus, I would love to know about what Wanjala is doing, both Bungoma where Wanjala is coming from and Kisumu where I stay are in Western Kenya. I read one of his stories here yesterday and it was representing real picture as it used to be in my community, retrogressive cultural practices and male dominance and supremacy which killed the aspirations of women. I will make a step to reach him so that we can share a lot on our projects, one on one.

Am happy to be here, World Pulse. 

jlanghus
Jan 29, 2018
Jan 29, 2018

Great! I hope you are able to connect and pool resources to make an even greater impact in your respective areas, and beyond:) I am happy that you are on WP, too! Have a great day!

Olutosin
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

This is so touching.

Thanks so much for sharing. It really has an impact on my thinking about boys. I'm happy that you survived and your siblings are thriving.

Yo

Adede Owalla
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

Thanks olutosin, I think my story represent the various struggles that not only boys go through, but Orphaned and vulnerable children all over the world. The society sometimes ignores them and they end up being wasted and resort to crime & drug abuse.

Thanks once again

Karen QuiƱones-Axalan
Feb 07, 2018
Feb 07, 2018

Thank you for sharing your well-written story, Adede. It is an eye-opener that society should not only focus on girls, but on boys as well. Thank you for striving hard to reach where you are now. If you quit trying along your journey, we would never learn about your inspiring story. 

You were destined to be a voice for the boys for such a time as this. KUDOS!