Story by: Frederick H
You were my favourite people in the entire world. But how come I no longer feel this way and I can no longer say it even when you are close to me? This is the reality, I cannot stop thinking about it. That morning when you all came up to me, saying I was to stop going to school. Reason, you were not ready to spend any more money at the expense of my brothers going to school, but we were all your children.
You, my dear ones. You are the ones who taught me how to love and work hard, you taught me how to stick to what I loved and showed me how to focus on the best things in life. When it came to education, you chose my brothers over me yet there was free education. You should not have looked at me as a mere source of labour for the home. You should never have looked at me as a mere source of bride price. You changed everything, you pushed me into becoming a young mother. You made me forget myself, but I will still say you’re my parents.
You thought I could only serve in the domestic arena, you got it wrong. I was and I am still disappointed that all this came from the people I loved the most. Well the man that gave you dowry abandoned us, he is now co-habiting with another woman. I have worked tooth and nail, now I take this pleasure to inform you that I utilized my own efforts and went back to school. Forced to marry as a child, maturity got me back into school and next moth I will be graduating. You should be proud of me, imagine those you paid for at my expense literally refused to go to school. We were all your children, you should not have given up on me because – I was a girl.
I have been fortunate enough to receive an education as an adult, paying my own school dues. I was and continue to be disappointed by the way you look on as education funds are diverted for selfish personal needs. You never stand up for girls who are forced to drop out of school under the force of child marriage! How does it feel when you sit in your office and read a headline such as, “number of girls dropping out of school on the rise?”
I am sure, as a leader, you are well aware of the economic and social difficulties girls face in accessing education. In this case, when some of my friends got pregnant, they were chased away from school and were not allowed to access school, even when they were in good health conditions to sit for their final exams. Surely you have relegated us to the edge of society. Nevertheless, I will speak for those that cannot speak, those who are silent and in pain. As a teenage mother, the burden of raising my boy lay squarely one me. There was little support from the man responsible for impregnating me. I was a young mother who still had love for school. Had it not been for the NGO, I would have been left stuck. I beat these challenges, but there are several girls out there who need your commitment towards their progress in education.
Mr. Clan leader,
Everyone in the village listened and feared you. You are the custodian of our customs and culture. It saddens me to know that in this age, you still organize female genital mutilation ceremonies. You take away the most sensitive genital organs from these girls. You usually say you want their sexuality controlled but remember every girl you have done it to has had terrible health complications. I was lucky to escape this, but many of the girls that I grew up with are suffering with psychological problems because of this practice of mutilation.
In all your customs and fireside teachings, you teach preference for sons as opposed to daughters. This has had devastating effects on us, as girls in this community. By doing this, you are denying us good health, education and opportunities. Remember you always say, the family lineage can only be carried forward by the male child, you say the girl child cannot inherit property. In actual sense you have encouraged dictates that have judged expectations and behaviours of the female child without giving them opportunity to explore their full potential. I want you to open your mind and heart and change for the better. Teach the importance of all children in the society.
I had to gather a lot of energy in order to write to you. In fact the thought of your name makes me think of death. The thought of you makes me feel like a prisoner that has no hope at all. I was innocent and you attacked me, you took away my innocence. You bruised my body and put permanent wounds onto my heart. Every time I think of the day you tied my hands and put cell-tape on my mouth, my inside dies. You destroyed all my teen-age years, you ruined my ambitions.
You, with your filthy hands and bad breath, smelling like rotten blood. I will not cry for the rest of my life. I will stand on my feet. I will strive for the security you stole from me, the confidence and strength. My worth is un measurable. I will definitely get there.
Yes I can never turn back the time, and no amount of punishment can ever bring back the joy that you took away from me. No matter what you did to me, I will never give up on trying to be better. Sometimes I get scared, but that is very ok. Sometimes I cry and that is very ok. But as long as I live, I will live to fight people who do things that you did to me when you took away my innocence. I will surely have a way out despite the obstacles.
I have been through weakness, but now I am strong. There was time when my mouth was shut, but now I have a voice, I found ways of dealing with all of you.