When I started the Rescue Women Girls Scholarship in 2014, Most often, Linda [her name has been changed to avoid stigmatization] was the first name that everyone in the village gave me to include in the scholarship row. She is the most vulnerable girl in the Rescue women scholarship scheme. She was born to a mentally deranged mother and an unknown father, who definitely raped her mentally ill mother and got her pregnant. Her mentally ill mother passed away many years ago, leaving her to an aunt who also went completely blind some years back. Linda, her younger brother, her blind aunt and her [about] 20 years old cousin who has 3 children, are living in a 4meters square rented one room in Bai Kuke village. Since her aunt went blind, when she was still about 10 years old, she has been the one responsible for going to the farm, planting crops, harvesting, cooking food for everyone in the house, cleaning, carrying her cousin's children. Worse of all, she's been bullied everyday in the village because she is the child of a mentally ill mother who walked with her strapped on her back all day all night, in rain and sun, till her death separated them. Having her in the scholarship is one of the most satisfying feeling I have had over the years. Rescue Women has always been proud having her.
Going to Bai Kuke on festive periods like December makes me happy -- because it is usually time for me to commune with all the girls/beneficiaries, spend time with them, dine with them, chat with them, mentor them and give them hope. But this December, instead of spending that quality time that is usually filled with joy, love and laughter, I was gripped by pain, cry, and disappointment. I couldn't contain the events that had characterized Linda's life in the last 6 months.
On a day in July this year, Linda's cousin discovered Linda was bleeding profusely. When confronted to say what was happening to her, she said she was menstruating. Bleeding went bad and she was rushed out of Bai kuke, to Mbonge hospital where the doctor interrogated her and she revealed she took some concoctions to abort a pregnancy. The man responsible for this pregnancy is an over 50 years old farmer.
"He put a cutlass in front of me and told me if I don't drink the concoction, he would kill me," Linda said. "He said if I tell anyone about it, he will kill me."
At Mbonge hospital, a D&C was conducted to save her life. Gendarmes were sent to arrest the [over] fifty years old in Bai kuke and conveyed to Mbonge. He was charged a huge sum of money for sleeping with, impregnating and committing abortion for a minor, and for not possessing a resident permit in Cameroon. He is a foreigner.
As I write now, Linda is pregnant again for the same man. It is a three months old pregnancy. The man has denied the pregnancy. Linda keeps saying he is the one but the man says he cannot be the one because he slept with her only a few times. Funny, right?
"He calls me all the time when his wife has gone to the farm and we have sex, he tells me not to abandon him because of the problem," Linda told me. "I go there not because I love him, but because I need financial help."
Linda says the man has given her the total sum of 10.000frs since she started sleeping with him. Sad to mention that she told me she has two other boyfriends she is sleeping with. Yesterday, 28th December 2017, she was caught sleeping with another boy and they were both chased out naked in the middle of the village.
"I don't know what is wrong with me mummy, help me," she told me, crying.
Linda has become a laughing stock in the village. She is frustrated, confused, sad and almost losing her sanity. I am even more confused about Linda's situation. She is definitely going through a mix of psychological problems that her little brain cannot handle. Could she be looking for love and affection in the wrong places? Could she be fighting all the rejection and bullying she has experienced in her life? Could she....??? I have a million questions to ask. Right now, my heart is bleeding, because I don't know what next steps to take.
All I could offer Linda is a listening ear, and also sharing her story to garner support anId advise from professionals. The response rate on Linda's case on Facebook, after I shared her story has been absolutely amazing. That is the little I could do to make her little voice loud. While I continue to share her story, I wouldn't relent on counseling other young girls who are trapped by adolescence and other forms of suffering at the same time. I am hoping for a miracle in Linda's life.